When the legendary Karl Lagerfeld recently depart this earthly life for the great catwalk beyond, the world of fashion was plunged into mourning.
His impact on the fashion industry and design was enormous and aside from a monumental talent, he was known for his dramatic appearance and eccentric image. His fluffy white cat, Choupette, was both an integral component of his image and a beloved companion.
As recently as last April, Lagerfeld stated that after his demise, he wished his ashes to be dispersed with those of his mother and Choupette, should she predecease him. Choupette lives on, and with her own Instagram account, coffee table book and modeling career, will likely to continue living a life of luxury.
But Lagerfeld’s death brings up an important issue in estate planning. Who will look after your pets when you’re gone? According to one survey, 68% of all US households have one or more pets. Our animals are family, and many are treated as furry children. Therefore, it only makes sense that an estate plan makes provisions for these family members.
Traditionally, pets were left to a friend or close family member. But given the love people lavish on their animals, pet trusts are becoming more common. It’s pretty straightforward: the estate plan includes a trust that funds the maintenance and care of a surviving pet. A trustee manages the funds and a caretaker assumes physical custody of the animal.
The custodian is legally entitled to request money for the animal’s care and maintenance, while the trustee approves expenses and manages the money. Typically, there is a formula to fund the trust that takes into account projected future needs including veterinary care and regular maintenance. But sometimes, the instructions go beyond the financial. Plans may include visitation by other relatives close to the animal or mandated activities.
When the pet crosses the rainbow bridge, the trust is terminated and the remaining funds pass on to a designated beneficiary.
For more on the subject of pet trusts, please see:
Why One Of Karl Lagerfeld’s Legacies Might Be Estate Planning For Your Pet | Forbes