When considering what should happen with a person’s financial resources after his or her death, many people do put something aside for the care of their pets, including naming “guardians” and setting aside funds in a “pet trust” for the benefit of the pet. However, pet trusts are usually just enough to pay a pet’s basic expenses: food, vet visits, etc. In that context, pet trusts are a sensible way to ensure that a beloved family member does not end up in a shelter in the event of the owner’s death or incapacity.
However, the New York Post is reporting that Bella Mia, a three-year-old Maltese and two-time winner of the New York Pet Fashion Show, is set to inherit a six-figure trust fund and her owners’ million dollar mansion. As an estate planning attorney, the thing that first comes to mind is that I hope the owners have been careful to set up the trust properly, to identify the next party in line to receive the funds upon Bella Mia’s death. Either that, or Bella Mia needs her own estate plan in place, too. (How do we determine whether a dog is competent to sign her will?) Is it too much to hope that the assets will ultimately pass to the Humane Society of New York or the ASPCA?