Pets are becoming increasingly important to Canadians. According to a 2001 IPSOS-REID "Paws and Claws" pet ownership study, more than half of all Canadian households owned a cat or a dog in 2001, with one third of households owning cats and one-third owning dogs.

Since Wills are an opportunity for individuals to provide for their loved ones, it’s not surprising that people are choosing to make provision for their beloved animal companions. However, there is no guarantee that their wishes will be sacrosanct.

In a recent Globe and Mail article, Barry Seltzer (a Toronto estates lawyer) noted that this was certainly the case for the late Leona Helmsley who left 12 million dollars in Trust for her beloved Maltese named Trouble and left nothing to 2 of her grandchildren for “reasons that are known to them.”   As a result of a Will Challenge (and as noted in an earlier blog post), the Trust was undone by a Manhattan Judge who reduced it to  $2-million (much to the chagrin of Trouble, I am sure) and the disinherited grandchildren were awarded $2-million each. The basis: incapacity.

And because I know you are all wondering about Trouble, let me assure you that while the deceased’s wishes were not carried out exactly as she had intended, recent reports indicate that Trouble is doing just fine! If you don’t believe me, click here.

Yesterday I discussed the more recent headliner involving the Estate of the late heiress Gail Posner who left a mansion valued at approximately $8.3-million as well as $3-million in trust to her 3 dogs, while leaving only $1-million to her only son, Bret Carr. Well, I’m sure it will come as no surprise to you that Bret Carr has initiated litigation against the Estate. It appears that he is seeking to have his late mother’s Will revoked on the grounds that her level of devotion to her dogs is a sign of mental illness *gasp – dog lovers unite* and that household aids drugged her, convinced her that Bret was trying to kill her and induced her to change her Will and Trust Agreement.

Thank you for reading!

Kathryn Pilkington  – Click here for more information on Kathryn Pilkington.