The world of fashion mourned when Karl Lagerfeld died, leaving a legacy of design and a unique style. He is survived by his cat, Choupette. The cat’s nine lives will continue to be lavish, as he undoubtedly made sure that she will be well-cared for.
Forbes’ recent article, “Why One Of Karl Lagerfeld's Legacies Might Be Estate Planning For Your Pet.” reports that as an arbiter of style, Karl Lagerfeld was always clear and concise in his wishes. That can be seen in how he often spoke about his death. In April 2018, in an interview with Numero he stated, “There will be no burial. I'd rather die ... I've asked to be cremated and for my ashes to dispersed with those of my mother… and those of Choupette, if she dies before me.”
After Lagerfeld’s death, Choupette continues to be a star. She has become an icon in her own right, because of the love lavished upon her by her owner. With an Instagram following, a coffee table book and a modelling career, this cat will likely continue her pampered existence. However, the designer’s death raises a key concern in estate planning today: the care of a pet when someone dies.
Like Lagerfeld, many people see their dogs, cats, and other animal friends as members of the family. Therefore, it’s only natural that they be part of the estate plan. Since Choupette lived a lavish lifestyle while Lagerfeld was alive, it’s presumed that he likely made the necessary arrangements for his kitty in his estate planning.
A pet trust is pretty straightforward: in your estate plan, you can create a trust that coordinates the care and maintenance of your pet. Like all trusts, there will be a trustee who manages the funds and a caretaker who takes care of the pet. The custodian can request money and the trust specifies the client’s hope that those funds be used by the custodian for the benefit of the pet.
A complicated facet of a pet trust is to consider the care and maintenance of the pet. In Choupette’s case, she lived a life of extravagance, so Lagerfeld probably funded the trust at a level to make sure this lifestyle can continue.
However, for most, there needs to be some formula to fund the trust. This amount often is based on the type of animal and its past and future projected needs. Some pet owners consult with their veterinarian to determine an appropriate amount for the future care needs for their dog, cat, or other pet.
When the pet dies, the trust ends, and the caregiver can be the beneficiary of the remaining funds for taking care of the pet so well.
One extra thought for planning for pet care: most animals are very social, and if there are family members or friends who they saw on a regular basis, their quality of life will be enhanced if they can continue to visit with these people, after their owners have died. Pets will know that someone they love is missing, but they will find comfort in spending time with people they know.
Reference: Forbes (February 20, 2019) “Why One Of Karl Lagerfeld's Legacies Might Be Estate Planning For Your Pet”
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