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All Dogs Go to Heaven (Update)

I previously posted about Bela, the German Shepherd, whose owner requested that he be put down, cremated, and have his ashes spread with the owner’s ashes.  The owner’s wishes resulted in a social media storm that ended with a Utah animal shelter providing him a home.  It turns out that the entire incident was much ado about a month. Bela was diagnosed with cancer over the weekend and put down. His ashes will be buried with his owner’s.

bela

To Have and Have Not (a Trust)

The executors of Lauren Bacall’s estate filed her will in probate court on Friday.  Her will, which she executed last fall, left her $27 million estate in equal shares to her 3 children save for a few small five figure bequests to household staff and to her son to care for her dog.    She also left $250K to each of her grandsons to be used for college with them receiving the remainder at the age of 30.

Several points:

1.  A funded trust would have provided her privacy so the public would not know about her intentions.

2.  A trust would also be a more efficient means of managing the funds for her grandsons.

3.  With college tuition increases not grounded in economic reality, I hope the $250K is enough to fully cover college expenses for her grandsons.     lauren Bacall-Lauren_15

Planning For Pets

Leona Helmsley created the most famous pet trust of all time when she left $12 million to her dog (which died earlier this month).   One does not have to be a multi-millionaire to leave funds for the care of an animal after death.  However, one should be careful in selecting the right person to care for the animal – the caregiver should not be motivated solely by money.

In one instance, a maid and butler were provided free room and board as long as they cared for a cat.   The vet initially estimated the cat to be 8 years old.  The second time the vet saw the cat, he thought it was 4 years old. The third time he saw it, he estimated the cat to be one year old.  As the co-resident of a house with a cat resembling the Purina Cat Chow cat, I can attest to the physical similarity of most cats.  A more tightly drawn test pet trust wold have prohibited the maid and butler from replacing the decedent’s cat with younger versions.

With the $5.25 million unified credit negating estate tax planning for most individuals, the use of pet trusts in estate planning is one more example of estate planning going to the dogs (and cats).

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All Posts By Jay Brinker

I am an attorney located in Cincinnati, Ohio who practices in the areas of estate planning, probate, asset protection, and small business advice. I make a difficult and bewildering process as simple as possible. Most importantly, I provide "more for less" for my clients.