The media will occasionally zero in on a story about pets that inherit vast fortunes from their human owners. One recent example is clothing designer Karl Lagerfeld, whose cat Choupette will continue to live the pampered life she was accustomed to as a favorite companion of Lagerfeld. The Burmese cat stands to inherit a substantial piece of the clothing designer’s $300 million estate.
Lagerfeld had also made his companion something of a star, complete with 250,000 Instagram followers. The cat also appeared in advertisements for cars and beauty products and even was the subject of two books.
Leaving something for the pet
Animal lovers planning their estate will often create a plan for the care of beloved animals, whether it is a dog, cat or horse. At a basic level, an estate plan can outline specific provisions to protect the animal from being given away, improperly cared for, or even euthanized.
A pet trust cannot be created here in Kentucky without a human beneficiary to manage the assets – one can be appointed if one is not named. If there was a trust created for a group of animals, this is to be maintained until the last living animal dies.
The structure of the arrangement is dependent on the needs and size of the bequest as well as the pet owners involved. Giving them peace of mind, it is not unusual for the deceased to give detailed instructions for the care of the pet as well as burial instructions once the animal dies.
Other things to consider:
- Identify your pets in order to prevent fraud by using photos, microchips or DNA samples.
- Stipulate that a trustee makes regular inspections of the pet(s).
- Determine the amount needed to cover the expenses of administering the arrangement.
- Designate a remainder beneficiary if the funds are not used.
Estate planning to fit the needs of the client
An effective estate law attorney can draft anything into an estate plan as long as it fits within the confines of Kentucky law. If the request does not initially do so, an attorney can often find a viable alternative for unusual requests.