Going to the Dogs? – Animals as beneficiaries part II

Some people don’t like the expression “crazy cat lady” as there is not an equivalent masculine epithet but as was previously discussed there are people who are very attached to their animal companions, and as with many things if people wish to leave money to their pets the richer they are, the more outlandish it seems.

“Gunther IV the Alsatian” has been referred to as the richest dog in the world with a net worth of over $ 370 million. It appears that the he inherited this fortune from his father Gunther III , who was the favourite pet, and sole beneficiary, of German countess and multi-millionaire Karlotta Liebenstein.

Gunther IV has expensive tastes; he eats steak and caviar, has a personal maid and butler, a chauffeur driven limousine and frequently relaxes beside a customized swimming pool at one of his homes.

The reality is that Gunther IV’s wealth is controlled by a trust. Establishing a trust enables individuals to direct money for the care of their animals (or other things) after they die. A trustee controls the money and makes decisions as to what is to be paid for; a caretaker looks after the pet and asks the trustee to pay for the bills and related expenses; the Court makes sure that the trustee and caretaker are acting in the interests of the beneficiary and not using the funds for their own benefit.

A trust usually details what should happen once a pet dies, usually whatever money left over is distributed to named individuals or a charity, or if beneficiaries are not named absorbed back into the estate.

One disadvantage of a trust could be  an unscrupulous caretaker, who has devoted themselves to taking care of a pet, (and has no other source of income once the animal passes away) acting to obtain an animal that looks similar to the one that has died so the trust is frittered away on the care of a line of imposter animals.

However if a trust was not established for the benefit of Gunther III and his progeny, the wishes of Countess Libenstein may not have been carried out – therefore if you want to make sure your wishes are known and followed after your death make a Will.

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