Leaving multimillion dollar estates to pets is becoming increasingly common around the world. Last year, a 94-year old Italian heiress passed away and left her entire $13 million fortune to her cat, Tommaso. The heiress, Maria Assunta, was widowed and childless when she adopted Tommaso, a flea-ridden stray cat roaming the streets of Rome.
In gratitude, Tommaso became her loving and devoted companion. Thus, when Ms. Assunta died, she apparently felt Tommaso deserved her entire estate. Italian law, however, forbids passing on one’s wealth directly to an animal, so Ms. Assunta named her nurse, friend and fellow cat lover, the trusted overseer of Tommaso’s care and estate.
Now the nurse and Tommaso live with another cat in the Roman countryside, in an undisclosed location, in order to avoid fortune hunters and con-men.
I have mixed feelings about this growing trend to leave obscene amounts of money to one or two pets. If someone wants to leave a trust to ensure their pet’s welfare after their own death, that is not only entirely understandable, it is also responsible. But to leave millions? Ridiculous. Especially when so many animals — and people — suffer from a lack of resources and proper care.
What do you think? Do you plan to leave a trust for your pet? Do you think it should be legal to leave vast sums of money to one animal?
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