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Can an owner bequeath his fortune to his pet?

Black French Bulldog with dollar note in his mouth advice

No, pets can't inherit money, but there are some exceptions.

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Pets are part of the family, which means we want to look after them when we're here, and long after we're gone. So if you've got a tidy sum stashed sway, you might be wondering if you can leave any of it to your furry friend should the worst happen.

By Ashley Murphy

But can pets inherit money? Well, the short answer is no. But luckily, there are still a few ways to make sure our pets are taken care of, whatever happens.

Can you leave all your money to your pet?

Pet can't own any money. But you can make sure they're well looked after when you're gone. Owners can nominate a specific relative, partner, or friend to become the animal’s new guardian, and set up a trust fund to cover the cost of pet-care.

Can an animal inherit money?

When it comes to writing a will, pets are classed as your personal property. Alternatively, working animals are considered as a business asset. Either way, pet owners can't leave any money to their furry friends or helpers.

What happens when money is left to a pet?

Any money left to a pet must be kept in a trust fund. Trusts are complicated (and often controversial) financial arrangements for protecting and transferring assets, such as cash or real estate.  In the most simple terms, a trust is when you give money or assets to another person (the trustee) to hold for the benefit of a third party, which in this case would be your pet. You can also add stipulations to your estate planning. For example, there could be £1million in the pet trust, but the money is paid out to the nominated guardian in the same way as a monthly salary.

Can cats inherit money?

Although cats can't technically inherit any money, there are still some very 'rich' kitties in the world. The late fashion legend Karl Lagerfeld allocated a large part of his multi-million fortune to his pet cat Choupette. Lagerfeld was worth an estimated £300million  at the time of his passing, but it's unclear how much of that went into a trust for his cat. But you can bet that Choupette will have all the treats she wants.

Who will inherit Karl Lagerfeld's fortune?

Although Choupette has millions of reasons to purr, we still don't know who'll be looking after her 'money.' The Lagerfeld estate has yet to be settled, and Choupette's whereabouts are a bit of mystery. However, she's most likely in the care of Françoise Caçote, Lagerfeld's former housekeeper. And if she’s eventually named as Choupette's guardian, then Miss Caçote will become one of the world's highest-paid cat sitters.

Who is the richest pet?

The world's richest pet is a German Shepherd called Gunther IV. He inherited a $375 million fortune from his dad, Gunther III, who was the primary beneficiary following the death of German Countess Karlotta Liebenstein.

And the title of world's wealthiest chicken goes to Gigoo. She collected a cool $12 million after the death of her chicken-dad. He was publishing tycoon Miles Blackwell. 

In 2011, Maria Assunta left $13 million in a pet trust for a little black cat called Tommaso. Maria rescued Tommaso just four years before she died. Previous to that, he was living as a stray on the streets of Rome. Now that's what you call rags to riches story. 

What happens when animals inherit money? 

But things don't always go so smoothly for pets with the big bucks. Because as the old saying goes: more money equals more problems.
 
And a little Maltese dog called Trouble certainly had his fair share after his human died, an American businesswoman called Leona Helmsley. She left Trouble with a trust worth over $12 million. But not everyone was happy with the decision. So after a string of court cases contesting the will, Trouble's jackpot was reduced to a measly $2million. 

And then his new guardian, Carl Lekic, was subjected to kidnapping and death threats. He eventually moved to a location, where Trouble lived happily ever after until he died aged 12.  The remainder of Trouble's trust went to several animal charities. 

These pets will never have to worry about where the next treat is coming from. And they'll always have enough stashed away to cover the vet's bill. They'll eat nothing except the finest pet foods, and there’ll be a chair in the local pet salon with their name on it - seems like some furry guys and girls get all the luck!