Every now and then there are stories in the news about an elderly rich person dying and leaving millions of dollars to their beloved pet dog, cat, bird, etc. Just this past month, it was reported that when she died, a wealthy widow of an Italian property tycoon left $13 million dollars to Tommaso, a stray cat that she had taken in several years before. The cat gained not only the money but also reportedly several opulent homes in Italy. To ensure that Tommaso would be taken care of, the woman arranged for her former personal nurse to oversee the funds and care for Tommaso.
While such stories may prompt one to laugh at the good fortune to have such a fortune to leave to a pet, the reality is that in Connecticut “pet trusts” have been allowed since 2009 when the state legislature passed Public Act 09-169, making Connecticut the forty-fourth state to allow the creation of trusts to take care of pets after the death of their owners. Under the law (General Statutes 45a-489a), you can create either a testamentary trust (created from your assets after your death) or an inter vivos or living trust (created from your assets while you are alive) to take care of any of your pets alive at the time of your death for the rest of their lives. Part of this process involves designating both a trustee, who may take care of the pets on a daily basis, as well as a “trust protector,” an individual who will monitor the trust and ensure that it is being used appropriately.
Although most people outlive their pets, it is not uncommon for a pet to outlive its owner, either because of old age or an unfortunate accident. Although you may not be able to leave millions of dollars and multiple houses to your beloved pet, a pet does not need such extravagance. It takes much less to create a pet trust to take care of your pet and creating a trust to provide a monthly stipend for food or cover the costs of veterinary visits may go a long way toward ensuring that your pet is a more likely candidate for placement with another pet lover when you are gone.
Questions or comments about this post? Contact Jared Cantor.