Dead Florida woman bequeathed her home and money to her cats

Originally published at: Dead Florida woman bequeathed her home and money to her cats | Boing Boing




So, fun fact: The woman who did this back in the 80s was my friend’s great aunt, and this woman was brilliant.

The whole thing was an elaborate tax shelter that used a dozen different loopholes. She also named her daughter as both caretaker of the cat, and executor of the cat’s estate- Meaning she got to live in the big house, drive the Mercedes, take the cat on lavish vacations, and on paper made sub poverty wages. She also had the right to determine the cat’s "eldest recognized descendant’ for purposes of inheritance, and was able to hire her own successor when she ‘retired’ from the caretaker role.


Cui bono?


perhaps i should revisit my estate planner.
seems my Dear Brother might benefit from a similar scheme when i leave the “island home” to my beloved kittehs and name him caretaker/executor in their trust.
win/win: he gets to live and write without care of income (not that he needs me, dude’s stacked) and Chili, Buddy, Baby and OC receive love and care for their lives.
and maybe… just maybe he’ll finally get some fruit from that ever-so-slow growing mamey sapote tree!

welp. off to make an appointment with [redacted] for a consult on cats v. DB.


The probate judge’s suspicions were aroused when he noticed what looked suspiciously like pawprints on a revised version of the woman’s will that her estate attorney said he had never seen before.


I wonder how carefully those contracts are written. Could a person of villainous intent legally euthanize a cat entrusted to their care just to speed up the inheritance?


Personally, I see this as an affront to the deceased’s wishes. Why couldn’t they hire an adequate caretaker to live in the house who could be trusted not to throw parties or abandon the pets or something else equally outrageous? They were fine before she died, why can’t they be fine in the same house with someone prepared to care for them?

ETA: Ah, @FloridaManJefe already had the same idea and edited as I was posting.

coca cola cat GIF


well… this is florida-da, so yeah, that is not only possible, but highly likely. guardianship is a hugely corrupt and exploitable legal process.

@knoxblox see, problem is, DB would never deign to actually stay here. he hates everything about keys life - boats, fishing, gardens and rural lifestyle. that throws the wrench in the works. but it is ostensibly about the kittehs.
get over yourself, DB!


Ill Do It 30 Rock GIF by PeacockTV

Anything for the kittehs!


How is this legal? Cats can’t own property or have bank accounts.

It’s not. You cannot leave money or property to a pet in your will. Pets, in the eyes of the law, are property. What you can do, and what I assume Mike’s friend’s aunt did, is to create a trust for the purpose of providing for your pets after you die. You can name a trustee who is in charge of that, and you can leave your entire estate to that trust, and stipulate that proceeds from the trust be used only for the care of the pets. Is this an effective tax dodge? Well…probably, but any trust can be an effective tax dodge. If that’s your sole purpose, there’s no need to involve your pets. You can just create a trust. Hell, my Wills, Trusts, and Estates professor is still very much alive, and she created a trust and put everything she owns in that trust. It also can be an effective way to avoid probate, if you know what you’re doing (I do not, and I am not a lawyer, nothing in this comment is legal advice, check with a real lawyer before doing anything, please).


That’s just what they want you to believe.

And no one can be compelled to be a trustee if they don’t want the job. So if a person dies with the intention of setting aside money for the care of her cats it still only works out if they have someone willing and able to take on the responsibility of making sure the money is spent that way.

If there’s a trust, there has to be a trustee. Generally, or at least if you have a halfway decent lawyer help you set it up, you will name an alternate trustee if the successor trustee can’t or won’t accept the responsibility. Worst case, the courts will appoint a trustee.

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But no one can be compelled to be a trustee. Just because a person dies doesn’t mean they can legally force their great-niece (or whoever) to take care of their cats.

Haven’t I seen that somewhere before?




Correct. But that doesn’t mean the trust fails and dies. If the named trustees don’t want the job, the courts will appoint someone. They will find someone who is willing and appoint that person. And in traditional trusts where you have human beneficiaries, the beneficiaries can get together and name someone themselves if they can all agree.

What if the court can’t find a qualified person who is willing and able to execute the conditions of the trust? If someone creates a trust that says “I bequeath my estate of $427 to ensure that someone sings my guinea pigs to sleep every night for the rest of their natural lives” and everyone involved thinks “that’s stupid and definitely not worth the effort” then what? The dead have no more power to force other people to take over their affairs than the living do.

Well, If I must be the one to step up to the plate, despite allergies and cough Tampa cough.

Too bad Florida Man is sometimes Florida Judge, and the cats are likely to be euthanized while some place like Palm Beach Adoptions collects on the estate. “Hey, we tried. Nobody wanted them.”
No doubt a friend of the judge.