Businessman Leave $5 Million to Beloved Dog

As recently reported by CNN, a successful unmarried businessman in Nashville who died last year at the age of 83 left his estate, estimated to be worth $5 million, to his 8-year-old dog in his last will and testament. In his will, he stipulated that upon his death, his assets would be transferred to a trust for the benefit of the dog, a border collie named Lulu.

The will named the businessman’s 88-year-old friend as the dog’s caretaker, who will be reimbursed for reasonable monthly expenses to care for Lulu. The will specified:

“This trust is to provide for all the needs of Lulu. The dog will remain in possession of [the friend].”

Other Millionaire Animals

This is not the first time animals have made the news for inheriting millions following their owners’ deaths.

Another article lists other noteworthy cases in which an owner left substantial amounts to pets following their death, including:

  • Michael Jackson left his chimp Bubbles $2 million payable upon his death;
  • The widow of the creator of Star Trek set up a $4 million trust for their dogs, plus an additional $1 million for a domestic employee to care for them;
  • Real estate mogul Leona Helmsley left her dog Trouble a bequest of $12 million, though a judge later determined the dog could get by on $2 million; and
  • Oprah Winfrey has reportedly already set aside a trust worth $30 million for the benefit of her dogs upon her death.

Richest Cat and Dog in the World 

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the richest cat in the world was a black cat named Blackie who inherited about $12.5 million when his owner — an antiques dealer — left a good portion of his fortune to his beloved pet.

The richest dog in the world is Gunther III, a German shepherd, who inherited $65 million when his owner, a countess, died in 1992. The humans who managed the dog’s estate eventually invested Gunther’s money and turned it into over $375 million, an amount which was passed onto Gunther’s son, Gunther IV.

Planning for Your Pet in Canada

Despite the above examples, it should be noted that you don’t have to be a millionaire to provide for your pet following your death.

In Canada, pets are considered property, so they cannot be named directly as a beneficiary in a will because they do not have the legal capacity to receive gifts made in wills.

Therefore, like the Nashville businessman, a testator could gift the pet to a trusted person and create a trust for the money to be used to care for the animal during the pet’s life.

A testator may also choose to create a trust in their will for the benefit of a person who will take care of the pet and include instructions for the care of the pet and how the trust funds should be used.

Finally, a testator may choose to leave a cash legacy (gift) to the person who will take care of the pet.

Each option has its pros and cons, and such provisions should be carefully drafted. It is recommended that your consult a lawyer in order to choose the best option for you and your pet.

Get Help

Protecting your assets and ensuring your family and other loved ones are provided for in the future is not something most people want to think about. However, effectively managing your wealth and protecting your spouse, children, and your estate is something that everyone should do at some point to ensure that your express wishes are carried out.

An effective estate plan goes far beyond just creating a will. You should also consider securing other important legal tools including powers of attorney (for personal care and for property), trusts (including Hansen trusts if you have disabled children or other dependants), as well as the designation of beneficiaries on life insurance policies, pensions, and other key documents.

The best way to guarantee that your wishes will be carried out exactly as you would like them to be is to consult with an experienced estate lawyer.  At Campbells LLP in Oakville, our wills lawyers have been helping clients with Wills and estates matter since 1999. We will meet with you to help you clarify your long-term objectives and will create a personalized, effective estate plan designed to meet those goals. As your family grows or changes, we will ensure your estate plan is amended as required to ensure it continues to protect your ultimate objective.

At Campbells LLP, we are proud of the strong, long-lasting relationships we build with the clients for whom we craft Wills and estate plans. With our help, you can ensure that your family and loved ones are taken care of, that your wealth is distributed as you wish, and that the risk of any potential litigation is minimized.  Our overall mission is to provide the right solution for each and every one of our clients. Contact us online or at (905) 828-2247 to learn more about our services.