You may have heard about the elaborate estate plans that have been created by some very wealthy people. As a case in point, a number of years ago, the estate of the “Queen of Mean,” billionaire Leona Helmsley, was in the news.
She may have been mean to some, but she had an entirely different attitude when it came to her Maltese, Trouble. Helmsley left the dog a trust fund that was stuffed with $12 million that was earmarked for the care of the animal.
If you are thinking that Trouble was the king of pooch tycoons, you are mistaken. In 1992, Gunther III, a German shepherd that was owned by Countess Karlotta Leibenstein, inherited a trust fund that was worth over $100 million.
Closer to home, popular TV personalities Oprah Winfrey and Betty White have reportedly established multimillion dollar trust funds for their respective dogs.
The idea of a pet trust is not as far-fetched as it sounds. A senior citizen can become quite lonely after they lose their spouse and some extended family members and friends. When you are retired, you do not have daily interactions with coworkers, and this adds to the isolation.
Depression can set in, and there can be a debilitating loss of purpose. Under these circumstances, the life experience of a lonely senior can be transformed by the addition of a fine furry family member.
A dog can be the ideal companion for an elder that needs a boost. There is a reason why they are known as man’s best friend, and when you have a dog depending on you, a sense of purpose returns.
You have to walk the dog if you are capable of doing so, and this is great for your physical and mental health. While you are getting fresh air, you will invariably chat with people that you meet along the way, and acquaintances may become friends.
There is also the security factor. A lot of elders are not going to be well suited to the ownership of a large dog, but small to medium-sized dogs can make a lot of noise when they hear unusual sounds outside the door.
The benefits are self-evident, but there is going to be an inherent source of concern if you are considering pet ownership as an elder. If you predecease the animal, what happens next?
This is a responsible question to ask yourself, but a pet trust can be the answer.
A pet trust can be included in the broader estate plan that you have already established, or it can be part of your initial plan. To execute this pet planning strategy, you convey assets into the trust, and you do not have to be overly concerned about the anticipated longevity of the pet.
You do not have a crystal ball, so it can be hard to know how much to convey into the trust. One of the benefits is the fact that you will name a successor beneficiary, and they will inherit the assets that are left in the trust after the death of pet.
When you are drawing up the trust, you leave instructions with regard to the way you want the pet to be provided for after your passing, and you designate a trustee. This can be a professional fiduciary that would have a legal obligation to make sure that your wishes come to fruition.
Of course, any adult that is willing to assume the role can act as the trustee from a legal perspective, so you have the freedom to name someone that you know personally.
A pet trust can be the ideal solution for some lonely seniors, and they are now legal in every state, so you can establish a pet trust as a Connecticut resident.
Call Us to Schedule a Consultation!
We can help you establish a pet trust if this is a source of concern, and of course, we can work with you to develop a legacy plan if you are not a pet owner.
Each situation is different, so personalized attention is key, and that’s exactly what you will receive when you choose our firm.
If you are ready to get started, you can schedule a consultation at our estate planning offices in Glastonbury or Westport, CT if you call us at 860-548-1000. There is also a contact form on this site you can use if you would rather send us a message.