There are some interesting stories about famous and not-so-famous wealthy people leaving millions of dollars to their pets. Oprah Winfrey’s estate plan reportedly includes $30 million set aside for her five beloved dogs, but they are not going to be the richest pets on earth.
Countess Karlotta Liebenstein died in 1992, and she left her entire $80 million fortune to her German Shepherd, Gunther III, and it was passed along to Gunther IV. The value of the trust has grown over the years, and a Gunther is still listed as the beneficiary.
Pet Ownership for Seniors
Even if you are not a multimillionaire, you can provide for your pet in your estate plan, and pet ownership can be a cure for the loneliness that many seniors experience. There is no better companion than man’s best friend, and there are other benefits.
When you have a dog that is relying on you for everything, you have a renewed sense of purpose. Dogs need to get exercise, so if you are physically capable of doing so, you will invariably take your pet out for walks.
This will be good for your physical health and your mental well-being, and when you are out and about, you may interact with other homeowners and animal lovers. Over time, you may make acquaintances that turn into genuine friends.
There is also the matter of home security. Even if the dog is not very big, it will let you know if there are any unusual sounds outside the door. Many seniors don’t hear as well as the used to, so a dog’s keen sense of hearing can be useful in a number of ways.
From an estate planning perspective, you could potentially ask someone that you know if they would care for your dog after your passing. If you find someone that is willing, you can leave them an inheritance with the understanding that it will be used to provide for the dog.
This is a risky approach because the would-be caretaker could use the money in any way that they choose from a legal perspective. Plus, what if things change and they are unable or unwilling to care for the pet after your death?
You do not have to take any risks because you can simply establish a pet trust in Ohio, and you can have a trust that is not funded with millions of dollars. In the trust declaration, you name a trustee to act as the administrator after you pass away.
When you are drawing up the trust, you leave instructions with regard to the way you want the dog to be cared for after your passing. You can be specific and spell out the types of treats and dog food they should have, and you can lay out an exercise schedule.
The trustee will not necessarily care for the pet, but they would be legally compelled to make sure that your instructions are followed to the letter. After the death of the pet, the assets that remain in the trust would become the property of the successor beneficiary that you designate.
As you can see, this is a turnkey solution that can make responsible pet ownership possible for senior citizens with longevity concerns.
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