Estate Planning for Pet Owners and COVID-19 Advice for Owners of Pet-Related Businesses, PLaY Like a Puppy podcast, 5.25.20
When the infamous hotel operator Leona Helmsley – known to many as the “Queen of Mean” – died in 2007, she created a stir by leaving her Maltese, “Trouble” a $12 Million trust fund (courts later reduced the amount of the trust to $2 Million). Ms. Helmsley’s actions received much coverage in the press, and most of it related to the apparent absurdity of leaving such a large amount of money to a pet.
Since the beginning of the twentieth century and now into the twenty-first century, the place our pets hold in society has dramatically changed. Animals have gone from the barnyard, to the backyard, and now into the bedroom. According to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, more U.S. households have pets than children.
What does this mean for estate planning? Was Leona Helmsley a trendsetter? While leaving multi-millions to an animal might seem a bit excessive, the underlying point – taking steps within your estate plan to care for your pet after your death – is a critical one. For the many pet owners that consider their pets as family members, providing for those pets within an estate plan is a significant consideration.
This was our main topic of discussion on the PLaY Like a Puppy podcast on Monday, May 25. You can listen to the episode by clicking this link. We also discussed preparedness planning for owners of dog-related businesses (groomers, trainers, boarding facilities, etc.) who have been affected by COVID-19.
A special thank you to my wife (and host of the PLaY Like a Puppy podcast), Jennifer O’Brien, for having me as her first guest.