Here’s a different kind of Bronx tale, or perhaps Bronx tail would be more accurate: a Bronx widow left $300,000 in her will to her cats, with instructions that the funds be used for the care of Troy and Tiger. That’s a lot of kibble, says Wealth Advisor, which published “New York Widow Leaves $300G To Her Cats.” The worst part of the story – at least in my opinion (and if the story is accurate) – is that the woman’s attorney discouraged her from protecting her pets. That would never happen in my office.
One former alley cat is now living the high life in sunny Florida, dining on filet mignon-flavored Fancy Feast and napping in a plush faux-fur bed with silk lining.
“He deserves it,” said Dahlia Grizzle, the former home health aide to the late Ellen Frey-Wouters and now Tiger’s caretaker. “He’s a wonderful cat.”
Frey-Wouters was a native of the Netherlands, who worked for the United Nations. She died in 2015 at age 88. Her husband was a Brooklyn College professor who died in 1989. They had just one child who died in infancy.
“The cats were like her babies,” Grizzle said.
Her attorney was surprised when Frey-Wouters suggested that she leave the large sum to her cats. The attorney said he didn’t think that $300,000 was necessary. He pointed out the case of Leona Helmsley, who left $12 million to her Maltese, Trouble.
In our office, we would never express surprise that a person wants to ensure the care and safety of their pets in the event of their incapacity (if they cannot continue to live with their pets) or after their death.
Frey-Wouters insisted that her cats be taken care of.
Let’s be clear –a pet owner cannot legally leave any part of an estate outright to an animal. However, funds can be left to a person as trustee of a trust who is designated to care for, or to supervise the care by a separate caregiver of, the pet, with instructions that the money be used for the pet’s care. If you have companion animals who may outlive you, speak with an experienced estate planning attorney to find out how you can protect your pets after you pass. Today, this is a very common wish by pet owners and one that can be addressed in the estate planning process.
Reference: WealthAdvisors (September 7, 2017) “New York Widow Leaves $300G To Her Cats”