Cutting right to the chase, a spoiler alert: Trouble is dead! She shuffled off this mortal coil some years ago at the tender age of 12. You recall (don’t you?) that Trouble was a Maltese owned by Leona Helmsley. Trouble was the beneficiary of a $12 million bequest to a trust established for the dog’s benefit. The court later reduced the bequest to $2 million figuring that the reduced sum would be enough to keep Trouble in dog biscuits and out of trouble for her life. The court was right and Trouble died without ever appearing in the tabloid press linked to any hint of scandal. Trouble even received an obituary in the New York Times. There is no record of Trouble ever appearing in the Wedding Announcements Section, however.
But seriously, folks, the care of our loved ones extends beyond the two-legged variety of friends and relatives. The number of celebrities who leave bequests to their animal companions is staggering. And who is to blame them? Charles De Gaulle, not a noted sentimentalist, once said, “The better I get to know men, the more I find myself loving dogs.” Albert Einstein was a well-known pet lover. He had a dog named Chico Marx. Whether either of these notables provided for their pets is unknown.
New York allows you to make a provision for your pet in your Will, or even in a living trust. Provision for the benefit of a pet may be made in variety of ways and the New York City Bar Association did a very useful monograph a few years ago on the topic. A copy is attached to this blog entry. (It is supplied for informational purposes only, with no warranty either express or implied that it is current. Its main benefits were that it is informative and available to the public.).
It is interesting to note that when New York first enacted the law authorizing pet trusts (Estates Powers and Trusts Law §7-8.1) it limited the duration of such trusts to 21 years. That was changed to allow the trust to exist for the life of the animal beneficiary. After all, some varieties of parrots can live well over 60 years. And should you have a tortoise near and dear to your heart, then expect the creature to need provision for a century or more.
Editor’s correction to writer: Dude, you’re showing your age. “Pet” is not the preferred nomenclature. “Animal companion,” please.
Editor’s note to reader: please feel free to substitute “animal companion” for “pet” in this blog entry.
New York City Bar Association, Committee on Animal Law, May 2016, “Providing For Your Pets in the Event of Your Death or Hospitalization”
A bonus joke. A guy goes into a bar with his dog. He has a drink and tells the bartender that his dog can talk and if he can prove it then he should drink for free. The evening’s early, so the bartender rolls his eyes and says, “OK, buddy, let’s hear it.”
The guy says to the dog, “Dog, what does sandpaper feel like?” RUUUF, RUUUF! says the dog.
The bartender says, “you’ll have to do better than that Mac.”
The guy then says to the dog, “Dog, what’s on top of a house?” ROOOF, ROOOF! says the dog.
The bartender is losing his patience and is about to throw the guy out along with his barking dog when the guy says, “Wait, wait, once more, watch this. Dog, who was the greatest baseball player of all time?” RUUUTH, RUUUTH! says the dog.
With that, the bartender grabs the guy by the ear and the dog by the tail and throws them both to the curb outside. The pair are sitting there nursing their bruises when the dog looks up at the guy and says, “DiMAGGIO?”