According to DNAinfo.com, there is a court battle over a $100,000 pet trust created for a 6 year old Dachshund in her deceased owner’s Will. Supposedly, the owner, Patricia Bowers, passed away in 2010 (apparently when the pet was but a wee pup). The dachshund, named Winnie Pooh, was left to caretaker Virginia Hanlon. Ms. Hanlon filed court papers in Manhattan last week, alleging that the executor of Winnie Pooh’s deceased owners estate is improperly withholding funds from the doggie’s trust. The trustee has occasionally sent payments of $2.36 per quarter (apparently estimating the cost of caring for a pet to be $10 per year). Last year when Winnie Pooh had a $6,000 surgery, the reimbursement check from the trustee bounced. So … when does it make sense to have a pet trust?
Many questions surface from this strange story.
- Why would you name a dog after a cartoon bear?
- What is the trustee doing with the money? If $100,000 is held in a pet trust, then there should be absolutely no reason that a check would bounce–unless the trustee is completely mishandling the money. If that’s the case, the trustee needs to get removed by the court and ordered to pay the caretaker’s legal fees and costs.
- The caretaker says that it would take $5,000 per year to take care of Winnie Pooh. I understand when there is a $6,000 vet bill. But how often does that happen?
- According to peteducation.com, the high end estimate of owning a dog for 14 years would be $39,000. What else was the caretaker planning to do for the dog? Go on trips to Europe?
Looking at the big picture, whether Winnie Pooh gets $5,000 per year, or a little more or less, her story is actually kind of within reason. You recall Leona Helmsley leaving $12 million to her beloved maltese, Trouble, among many other pets. That is actually absurd. So is when Gunther IV inherited his $375 million fortune from his father, Gunther III, the beloved pet of Countess Karlotta Libenstein. (This was actually the first time I had heard of a pet dynasty. I guess it’s technically possible.)
To conclude, I’m in favor of leaving a reasonable amount of money in a pet trust. That’s only fair to the person to whom you leave your pet. However, if you want to leave millions of dollars to your pet(s), you might just do some more soul searching and see if perhaps your money could better help the world.