When you think about lifestyles of the rich and famous, images of actors, athletes, and captains of industry come to mind. You may not think about four-legged, furry companions when you conjure images of millionaires but the fact is that there are a few of them out there. We even refer to our Maltese, Troubles, as the Million Dollar Marketing Dog for our firm. You can see her on our website at www.parmanlaw.com. Our clients receive birthday cards from her. For many of us pets occupy a special place in our lives. And, you can do special things for them if you leave them behind.
It is possible to create a trust fund for the benefit of your pet. Imagine if you were an extremely wealthy pet owner who did not have a lot of heirs. You may want to allow for the pet to remain living in your home after you pass away.
If you were in fact very well-heeled, your home would probably be quite extravagant and the cost of upkeep might be extraordinary. Plus, you would have to arrange for payment to a caretaker. So the amount that you left behind for the care of your dog or cat might be rather eye-catching to ordinary people.
This is the case with two very famous female entertainers: Betty White and Oprah Winfrey. Ms. White reportedly has set aside $5 million for the care of her beloved dog Pontiac, and Winfrey is said to have a trust fund in place for the benefit of her multiple dogs that is funded with some $30 million. You may remember the Leona Helmsley pup. She was also a Maltese named “Trouble.” Her master set aside $11 million in a trust for her but a court reduced the fund to $1 million, giving the difference to relatives who contested the bequest to Trouble. How dare they! I’m sure Trouble thought the judge overstepped his judicial discretion.
Clearly, these fortunate dogs are sitting on some big bucks. Your canine best friend may have simpler tastes, but you should do what it takes to provide for your dog within your means. If you would like to do so, take action right now to arrange for a consultation with a good Kansas City estate planning lawyer.
Author, President and Founding Attorney
Parman & Easterday
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