Companion Animal Planning

Dear Garden State Trust:

Can I provide something for my pets in my will? Didn’t Leona Helmsley set up a trust for her dog?

—Thoughtful Animal Lover

Dear Thoughtful:

Yes, Mrs. Helmsley created a $12 million trust to care for her pet, Trouble. However, the probate court subsequently reduced the size of the trust to $2 million, reasoning that a fund of that size should be plenty to keep Trouble in doggie treats and out of mischief. More recently, there has been press speculation that Karl Lagerfeld’s cat, Choupette, may become an heiress, as Lagerfeld died childless. (Details of his estate plans are not yet available.)

More and more states are changing their laws to permit pet owners to provide lifetime financial support for their companion animals. Alternatively, you may want to explore having more specific instructions identifying the caregiver for your pets, the standard of living to be provided, the schedule of vet visits, and the plan for financial distributions.

These are matters that you should explore with the attorney who handles your estate planning. Don’t feel embarrassed to bring up the subject of planning for your pets. As the Helmsley case shows, estate planning for pets is going mainstream.

Do you have a question concerning wealth management or trusts? Send your inquiry to

(March 2019)
© 2019 M.A. Co. All rights reserved.

Guinness Turns a Golden Argument Into a Gold Opportunity

The year is 1954. Sir Hugh Beaver still hadn’t found out what he need to know in order to be known as correct beyond dispute after missing a shot at a golden plover: What is the fastest game bird in Europe, the golden plover or the red grouse?

After searching for answers in reference books, the dispute between him and his hosts at an earlier event was left unresolved. He realized that he must not be the only one facing such a predicament, and leveraged his position as the managing director of the Guinness brewery to fix this problem once and for all.

They would create a promotion to settle bar disputes, distribute to local pubs, and he hired Ross and Norris McWhirter to create the official record. Over a thousand hours of work later, the original Guinness Book of Records was published, which became the global phenomenon we know today as the Guinness world records.

New Jersey has some Guinness records of their own to tout as well. Our favorite New Jersey record holder:

Erna Kohane, of Mount Arlington is the oldest person to grow a new tooth. She was confirmed to have a new tooth growing in January 2014, at the age of 92 years and 144 days.

Our favorite wealth management related record:

The mystery billionaire from Silicon Valley who owns the most expensive life insurance policy at $201 million – It’s hypothesized that it’s to increase liquidity and reduce tax liability for the beneficiaries. The full story is here:

Because of the temporarily enlarged estate tax exemption, tax planning is not as strong a motivator for most families’ estate planning. Nevertheless, it is crucial to create a plan and to get organized so those that need to figure everything out are not in the dark about what or where the assets are that will pass through the estate.

Garden State Trust Company professionals can help you get organized.

Did Sir Hugh Beaver win his argument?  Likely not, as the golden plover was not the fastest game bird in Europe. However, he did find literary gold though as over 138 million copies were sold!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone!