In the Disney movie That Darn Cat!, the plot is set into motion by an elderly woman who leaves her prodigious estate to the eponymous feline.
In real life, clients cannot bequeath directly to a pet, but there are ways to ensure Fluffy and Rex are cared for after their owners pass on, says Frances Carlisle, a New York City attorney specializing in wills and trusts for animals (really). According to Carlisle, 24 states currently allow pet trusts, and more are expected to join that list soon. (“Politicians tend to like bills about puppies,” she says.) Pet trusts are fairly traditional in structure, with a designated trustee, guarantor and court enforcer, who ensures the lucky animal receives its due benefits.
“Taking care of pets is something that has been largely ignored by investment professionals and lawyers,” Carlisle says. “It's time for that to change. Clients value their pets as family, and if you don't recognize that, you're not appropriately serving their needs.”