When hotelier Leona Helmsley died in 2007, she left $12 million to care for her dog. Michael Jackson left $1 million to provide for his chimp. Oprah Winfrey has reportedly set aside $30 million for her dogs. (Click here to see more stories about wealthy pets.) When wealth is set aside for pets in an estate, it is often the subject of ridicule, but many pet lovers who see their pets as members of their family completely understand and sympathize. If you loved your pet like a child during your life, it would probably be very important to you that this pet would be well cared for in the event that they survived you, especially if you do not have human heirs.
While pets are legally recognized as property and can therefore not be bequeathed money directly, most all states in the country now recognize pet trusts (click here for a list of state laws regarding pet trusts). Much like a trust created for the care of a minor child, pet trusts name a trustee who is legally bound to care for a pet per the instructions of the deceased. This Huffington Post article talks about a variety of ways to protect your pet after your death.
For more information on pet trusts, see our recent article from Give & Take.