Friday, May 20, 2011

Remember Your Companion Animals in Your Estate Planning

(Image credit: Associated Press)
Back in 2007, Leona Helmsley, “The Queen of Mean” died, leaving behind quite an estate. According to news articles, Helmsley's instructions for the dispersal of her trust, estimated to be in the neighborhood of $5-8 billion, stipulated that the the majority of the money go towards the care and welfare of dogs. Her white Maltese dog, labeled by the media as “a rich bitch,” was left with a trust fund of $12 million and directed that the dog be cared for by two of Helmsley’s relatives.

The Helmsley Foundation provided for a part of her $450 million estate to benefit animal welfare. However, to date, only $100,000 has been distributed to animal welfare organizations. "The statement is an expression of her wishes that is not necessarily legally binding," says William Josephson, a lawyer, speaking in regards to how Helmsley’s trust will be divided up. A judge ruled that the trustees have sole discretion of how the money should be distributed. 

Please ensure you take the time to create a will or estate plan, specifically pronouncing your final wishes. Remember to include provisions for your companion animals (e.g. who will take care of them, money for care-taking), so they will be safe and loved even after you are gone. And please, in honoring your compassion for animals, remember to include a donation gift to your favorite cause(s) and organization(s), so they may carry on your dedication to improving the lives’ of animals everywhere.

For more information on estate planning and Alley Cat Rescue’s Gift Annuity Program, please click here.   

1 comment:

Sierra said...

Thanks for the important reminder.

In my area, there's an all-cat shelter that will provide care for your companion if you've set up a fund and specified it in your will beforehand. I need to look into this for my kitties because you never know what could happen. I know the organization does great work, and I'd feel comfortable knowing my cats would always be cared for.