Here are five famous examples of pets that have received large inheritances from their owners, and how the money was used:
A German Shepherd named Gunther IV inherited a fortune from his owner, German countess Karlotta Liebenstein, who left her entire estate to Gunther III, Gunther IV’s father. The inheritance, now worth over $375 million, is managed by a group of trustees. The fortune has been used to purchase properties, including a Miami mansion that once belonged to Madonna, and to maintain a luxurious lifestyle for the dog.
Leona Helmsley, a wealthy hotelier, left her Maltese dog, Trouble, a $12 million trust fund when she passed away in 2007. The money was to be used for the dog’s care and well-being. However, a judge later reduced the inheritance to $2 million. The remaining funds were used to provide for Trouble’s care until her death in 2011, after which any leftover money was allocated to charitable causes.
In 2011, an Italian widow named Maria Assunta left her estate, worth an estimated $13 million, to her black cat, Tommaso. The fortune included cash, properties, and other assets. The money is managed by a trustee, who ensures that Tommaso is well cared for and lives in comfort. The trustee is also responsible for making charitable donations to animal welfare organizations on behalf of Tommaso.
Michael Jackson’s famous pet chimpanzee, Bubbles, was not left a direct inheritance; however, he benefits from the late pop star’s multi-million-dollar estate through a trust. Bubbles currently resides at the Center for Great Apes in Florida, and the funds are used to provide him with a comfortable and nurturing environment, along with the other apes at the sanctuary.
British publishing mogul Miles Blackwell left an estimated £10 million ($13.5 million) inheritance to his pet hen, Gigoo, when he passed away in 2001. The funds were designated for the care and maintenance of Gigoo, who lived on the Blackwell’s farm. It is unclear how the money has been used since then, but it was presumably intended to provide for Gigoo’s well-being and to support animal welfare initiatives.
These cases highlight the deep attachment some individuals have with their pets, leading them to make provisions for their care and well-being through estate planning tools such as wills, trusts, or other legal mechanisms.
Unfortunately most state laws don’t allow you to leave money to animals as they are considered property. If you are like us, your pets are your family as well and this is why it becomes important to create a Trust. With a Trust you can leave inheritance to a beneficiary and leave instructions on how to care for your beloved pet with the money provided.
If you have any questions about setting up a Living Trust, book a call today and we can guide you through the process in as little as 5 minutes.