Entire Estate Left to a Dog?

Ken5 News reported on a unique estate planning case this week involving a man who left a fortune to his favorite canine.

The report explains how the man amassed a large collection of various valuables over his lifetime, from fine china to antique furniture. His possessions were enough to fill ten homes. Wanting to ensure his wishes were carried out after his passing, the man contacted an estate planning lawyer to ensure legal documents were in place. Trusts were used to protect the valuables and delineate ownership in the event of death or disability. Our New York estate planning lawyers know that all of this is similar to steps taken by local families (of all net worths) when planning for the future.

What was different in this case, however, was who was set to receive all of these valuables at the man’s death. Interestingly, the man’s will left everything to his dogs–only one of which, named “Lucky,” was actually alive when the man passed away.

One the man’s friends explained that “his dogs were basically his children, his family.”

Considering the important role that pets play in so many lives it is not uncommon for residents to leave inheritances to animals. Though leaving vast wealth to a non-human creature is somewhat unique.

But what does this mean in practical terms?

Several high-profile local legal cases have involved what to do when a pet inherits vast sums of wealth. Perhaps the most well-known is that of Leona Helmsley–who left millions to her beloved dog. The main lesson from all of the cases is that part of the actual inheritance will be spent on reasonably caring for the animal for the rest of his or her days. The remaining funds are likely given to relatives, charities, or other designated beneficiaries. It is crucial to understand what funds will or will not actually reach the animal when doing this planning.

In our area, be sure to get in touch with a New York City estate planning lawyer who can share information on pet trusts to guarantee that your animal friends are taken care of no matter what the future holds.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

More Options to Account for Animals in Estate Planning

Estate Plan Can Provide Lifetime Care for Pets

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