News this week that, following the death of fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld, his beloved cat Choupette has been left a portion of his $200m dollar estate in his will.
News stories (often exaggerated) of pets richer than most of us can ever dream of being capture the public imagination every few years - apparently an English cat called Blackie was left £7m by his owners in 1988 and rumours still abound of a chicken left £15m.
But can your pet really inherit your house or your bank account? Well, not really. In fact by law, animals are considered an asset themselves.
So, how do we help clients to ensure their pets are properly cared for after their death? There are many considerations - who should look after the animal, how long will it live, how much will it cost for food and vet's bills, and so on?
One way is to give the pet to a trusted individual, or animal charity, with a conditional gift of money for their maintenance. Another way is to use a trust and leave funds to named trustees to care for the animal. Trust law does not normally allow non-charitable trusts for purposes (as opposed to trusts for people), but several exceptions have developed in the Courts, including trusts where the purpose is maintaining animals.
The catch is that the trust must be limited to a period of 21 years (as it was judged that most animals would not live longer than this).What's clear is that the gift must be carefully drafted. And care must be taken not to make the animal too wealthy as disgruntled family members may challenge the will!
If you're concerned about how best to provide for your pet when you're gone, please give us a ring to see how we can help.
In the interview, he said Choupette was in his will, "among others". But he added: "Don't worry, there is enough for everyone."