Wednesday, June 22, 2011

After Death, You May Leave Money to Your Pets

I’m sure to the shock of some of our readers, individuals are allowed to leave money, property, and other belongs to their pets after they pass away.  Just this month, West Virginia passed a law allowing individuals to leave money to their pets in trusts which are created to “provide for the care of an animal alive during the grantor’s lifetime. The trust terminates upon the death of the animal or, if the trust was created to provide for the care of more than one animal alive during the grantor’s lifetime, upon the death of the last surviving animal.”  West Virginia is not alone in creating trusts like this one; it is the 45th state to pass such a law, along with Washington D.C.
One of the most famous cases involving an inheritance being left to an animal was Leona Helmsley’s trust for her dog, Trouble.  When Helmsley passed away in 2007, she left $12 million of her estate to Trouble. A judge later reduced the amount to $2 million.
Though Trouble’s $12 million fortune may seem excessive to some, two other dogs have fortunes that far outshine Trouble’s. A German dog named Gunther IV received $130 million after his owner’s death. Miss Charlie Brown, a cocker spaniel from South Dakota will receive $130 million when her mining magnate owner passes away.
Unfortunately, Trouble passed away recently.  Trouble’s life of luxury is over.  The remainder of Trouble’s inheritance will now go to the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust.

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