Sunday, February 26, 2017

Woman Dies and leaves million$$$$$$ to cat.

What do you give the cat who has everything — including millions in cash, property in various locales and his own personal human attendant? Lots of love, of course.

Woman Leaves $13M Fortune to Pet Cat ABC News Italian black cat becomes a fat cat after inheriting 10 million euros The Telegraph Italian cat becomes hairy heir MSN EmailPrintShare Follow @TIMENewsfeed What do you give the cat who has everything — including millions in cash, property in various locales and his own personal human attendant? Lots of love, of course. Tommaso, a 4-year-old former stray cat from Rome, is now living large after his well-to-do owner (and savior) bequeathed to him a fortune worth approximately $13 million.

Maria Assunta, who died two weeks ago at the age of 94, left her entire estate, including properties in Rome, Milan and land in Calabria, to her beloved animal, which will be distributed via her former nurse, Stefania, to care for the kitty. Assunta was the widow of a property tycoon and had no children or living relatives, but when she found Tommaso as kitten in a Rome alley, she fell in love with the furry friend, and was dedicated to giving him the best of everything, even after her death. After trying to find an animal welfare association that could care for Tommaso, Assunta determined that none lived up to her strict set of standards. So instead, she decided to tap Stefania to be the cat’s provider. “I promised her that I would look after the cat when she was no longer around. She wanted to be sure that Tommaso would be loved and cuddled,” Stefania told the Telegraph. “But I never imagined that she had this sort of wealth. She was very discreet and quiet, I knew very little of her private life. She only told me that she had suffered from loneliness a lot.”

The lucky cat Tommaso now lives with Stefania and another cat in a house outside of Rome. According to Anna Orrechioni, one of Assunta’s lawyers, the ailing woman had become very fond of Stefania. “We’re convinced that Stefania is the right person to carry out the old lady’s wishes,” Orrechioni told Il Messaggero newspaper. “She loves animals just like the woman she devoted herself to right up until the end.” According to ABC News, Tommaso is the third most wealthy animal on the planet (if you can believe that). He’s preceded by Kalu the chimp, who was left $80 million when his owner passed, and Gunther IV, who inherited $372 million from his father — yep, another dog — who was the companion of a German countess.

Pet inheritance: the trouble with leaving your pet money

Estate planning with Fido in mind? Better be careful, says a trusts and estates expert at Washington University in St. Louis School of Law.
The issue has been in the news recently. British fashion designer Alexander McQueen, who died in February 2010, left a sizeable sum of money to his beloved dogs; Trouble, the recently deceased dog of “The Queen of Mean,” Leona Helmsley, famously inherited $12 million.
Beyond celebrities, a powerful pet inheritance constituency thrives. Between 12 percent and 27 percent of owners have provisions for their pets in their wills. But what happens to the inheritance when the pet passes?
“Poor Trouble already had her bequest reduced to $2 million among other problems with the inheritance,” says Adrienne Davis, JD, the William M. Van Cleve Professor of Law at Washington University in St. Louis.
“The remainder of Trouble’s money will go to Helmsley’s charitable trust. And yet, the legal issues do not end there. Typically gifts to charitable trusts, including remainders such as this one, would qualify for a tax deduction. However tax law excludes charitable remainders following pet trusts from qualifying.”
Davis notes that there is one final anti-pet outrage in Trouble’s case. In addition to reducing Helmsley’s gift to Trouble, the probate judge overturned Helmsley’s directive that her charitable trust be used for animal welfare, instead permitting the trustees to distribute Helmsley’s assets to non-animal charities of their own choosing.
“Although pet inheritance in America was recognized in 1923, and despite several recent innovations, the law remains unstable,” Davis says.“One basic problem is that estate planning attorneys and their clients do not take advantage of the substantial legal reforms that have come in the last decade. Trusts must be properly drafted and should name caretakers who are willing to comply with the trust terms. If a final resting place is desired, lawyers should check that it will accept pets.”
Helmsley’s final request for Trouble, that she be buried beside Helmsley in the family mausoleum, cannot be fulfilled as pets cannot be buried in human cemeteries.
Davis says that other reforms are still needed.
“One proposed bill would extend the charitable remainder tax deduction to pet trusts,” she says.
“Other reforms would make it easier to create trusts for future generations, or ‘grand-kid pets.’ That ‘companion’ feeling has spilled over owners’ lifetimes into their estate plans, with no end in sight.”
Frances Foster, JD, trusts and estates scholar and the Edward T. Foote II Professor of Law at WUSTL School of Law, tackles the issue of pet inheritance reform in her recent Florida Law Review article, “Should Pets Inherit.”
“Trouble — and the millions of American pets like her — should inherit,” Foster says.
“American inheritance law is trapped in an outdated family paradigm. That paradigm assumes that the decedent’s closest relatives by blood, adoption or marriage are the most deserving recipients of the decedent’s estate, the so-called ‘natural objects of the decedent’s bounty.’ For many Americans today though, their pets, not their human family members, are their nearest and dearest.”
Foster argues that the idea of “natural” wealth distribution permeates law and decisionmaking and creates significant human costs.
“By ignoring the actual relationships between decedents and survivors, the family paradigm excludes the very people a particular decedent may have valued most — those connected by affection and support rather than by family status,” she says.
Foster notes that recent reforms have focused on enforcing pet care arrangements on an ad hoc basis, improving legal mechanisms to provide for decedents’ pets and redefining the legal status of pets.
“But these strategies offer only partial solutions because they fail to challenge the family paradigm,” she says.
“Reformers must look beyond the family paradigm’s abstractions and develop more individualized approaches that encompass a decedent’s actual natural objects ― be they human or nonhuman.”

No comments:

Post a Comment