Tag: dogs

07 Jul


Hull & Hull LLP Estate & Trust, Pets Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , 0 Comments

My blog posts this week have been inspired by a Globe and Mail article that a summer student handed to me about the late Gail Posner’s trust provisions for her dogs, Conchita, April Maria and Lucia.

In yesterday’s blog I noted that while Wills are an opportunity for individuals to provide for their loved ones, there is no guarantee that our stated wishes for our beloved companion animals will be sacrosanct. For example, the late Leona Helmsley’s $12-million trust for her dog Trouble was reduced to $2-million by a Manhattan Judge on the ground that the deceased lacked capacity with regard to her Will and the Trust Agreement.

In the Globe and Mail article that inspired my posts this week, Barry Seltzer noted that Canadian legislatures may wish to consider “ante-mortem” probate as a way to ensure capacity does not become an issue in these cases. Ante-mortem probate is a technique used in certain states, including Arkansas, North Dakota, and Ohio, to validate a will while the person is still alive so that it cannot be contested once the person passes away.

In some cases, the wishes of a testator regarding his pets are contrary to public policy and, thus, are held to be void. For example, some pet owners have included clauses in their wills directing that their pets be euthanized upon their death (perhaps because they feel that their animals will be distraught without them). 

In one such case a testator (Mr. Clive Wishart) directed that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (“RCMP”) shoot four of his horses. The RCMP refused and the matter was brought to a New Brunswick Court where it was held that the direction to shoot “four healthy animals” was contrary to public policy because doing so would serve “no useful purpose” and “would be a waste of resources and estate assets even if carried out humanely.” 

For those of you interested in reviewing the case, the citation is: Wishart Estate (Re), [1992] N.B.J. No. 547.

Thank you for reading!

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

05 Jul


Hull & Hull LLP Estate & Trust, Pets Tags: , , , , , , , 0 Comments

There has been a great deal of discussion about the late Leona Helmsley who, when she died, left 12 million dollars in Trust for her beloved Maltese Trouble, while leaving nothing to 2 of her grandchildren for “reasons that are known to them.”

Well it’s happened again…another estate is going to the dogs! Our summer student forwarded me a Globe and Mail article discussing the provisions that the late heiress Gail Posner made for the benefit of her fabulously famous Chihuahua Conchita and her 2 other dogs, April Maria and Lucia. These pampered pooches are to receive an $8.3 million mansion and a $3-million trust fund under her estate while the deceased’s only son, Bret Carr, takes a meagre $1-million in comparison.

According to the terms of a Trust Agreement (amended by the late heiress in 2008), so long as she had dogs at the time of her death, the trustees:

1.  are to retain the mansion property (located in Miami Beach) plus a sum of money not more than $3-million to cover the carrying costs of the mansion.

2.  shall pay $5-million to Elizabeth Beckford to care for Conchita, April Maria, and Lucia. I note that the deceased provided that they are to be cared for with “the same degree of care” they received while Posner was alive (which, I suppose, will mean the continuance of their weekly doggie spa appointments).

Upon the death of the dogs, the mansion is to be sold and the proceeds are to go to charity. The remainder of the estate (after certain specific bequests) goes to animal shelters, breast cancer prevention, and suicide-prevention centres.

Those are some lucky dogs (shhhhh – don’t tell my dogs, Digger and Nicky. They’re spoiled enough)

Thank you for reading!

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

27 Jun

Planners for Pets

Hull & Hull LLP Estate & Trust, Estate Planning, Pets Tags: , , , , 0 Comments

I recall a good deal of discussion when Leona Helmsley left millions to be held in trust in her Will last year, some of it on the Hull & Hull blogs and podcasts.

Well, the website for Estate Planning for Pets provides some interesting reading in this vein, although the kind of trust established by Ms. Helmsley is obviously rare.  My own eye was drawn to the “for skeptics” section, which admonished professionals to put their clients’ wishes first, not their own priorities.

The point seems to be that rather than focus on one’s own, subjective opinion that money to pets could be used for other purposes, it is more appropriate to consider what happens to the pet if the testator makes no provision.  Absent provision, the pet could end up abused, ignored or euthanized.  Anyone who has lost a beloved pet can probably understand why testators want to soften the blow to a pet who loses them.  

Thanks for reading.

Sean Graham


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