Last Wishes

To secure your beloved companion’s future, know your legal options.


When billionaire real-estate investor and hotel operator Leona Helmsley died in August 2007, she left behind disgruntled former employees, a history of legal problems, disinherited grandchildren and one very rich bitch named Trouble, her beloved and reportedly ill-tempered Maltese.

Despite the media frenzy that ensued over the $12 million bequeath to Trouble, Helmsley wasn’t the first dog owner to attempt to leave her surviving animals a sizable inheritance. In 1968, Quaker State Oil heiress, Eleanor Ritchley, left $4.2 million for the care of her 150 dogs. In 1931, Ella Wendell of New York, left her Standard Poodle, “Toby,” $15 million. In 1996, Sydney Altman of California left $1 million to “Samantha,” his Cocker Spaniel.

Although it was likely unintended by Helmsley, who appears to have had less than a generous disposition, she raised awareness across the country about an important and all-too-often overlooked question: What will happen to your animals if you die before they do?

We are familiar with options available if our animals predecease us. We can choose burial, cremation, entombment – all with formal memorial services available. Some owners even opt for the less-traditional taxidermy and mounting, or cryogenic freezing. However, most pet owners never consider what would happen to their animals in the event that they die first.

Want to read the full story? Pick up the January 2009 issue of DOG WORLD today, or subscribe to receive the best dog articles, dog news, and dog information every month!


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