What are the biggest estates ever left to pets?

Published 10 Apr 2018

Author: Richele Nelsen

Wanting your pets to go to a good home and be well looked after when you pass away isn’t unusual. You may even have set aside money in your will to ensure your pets’ needs are met should the worst happen.

But some multimillionaires go far beyond basic care and maintenance for animals, and instead choose to leave significant parts of their estates to furry companions.

We’ve compiled a list of pets that inherited the biggest fortunes.

1. Gunther IV ($473.5 million)

German shepherd Gunther IV is the apparent heir to a $473.5 million estate left by his father, Gunther III.

The elder Gunther – also a German shepherd – received the money after owner Countess Karlotta Liebenstein allegedly bequeathed him $101 million in 1992. The money has been invested well and grown substantially since, but is the tale too good to be true?

The story comes from the Gunther Corporation, an Italian multimedia production company that bought Madonna’s $9.5 million Miami mansion on behalf of Gunther IV in 2000. The firm claims to represent the dog’s financial interests, but the canine’s fortunes may just be a publicity stunt.

2. Blackie ($12.4 million)

While Gunther’s wealth can’t be confirmed, Blackie was listed in the Guinness World Records as the richest ever cat after his reclusive antiques dealer owner left him $12.4 million.

Ben Rea died in 1988 and Blackie was the last survivor of 15 felines with whom he shared his UK home. Mr Rea left the rest of his family out of his will, and most of his wealth went to three cat charities.

According to Guinness World Records, the eccentric animal lover’s sister died just a few days before him and also left the majority of her $5 million fortune to animal charities.

3. Tommaso ($15.7 million)

The tale of Tommaso is a real rags to riches story. Once a stray on the streets of Rome, the black cat was adopted by real estate magnate Maria Assunta.

She died aged 94 in 2011, but left the lucky moggy $15 million worth of Italian property. Succession laws in the country don’t allow estates to be left directly to pets, but animals can be beneficiaries if a trustee is appointed.

The Guardian reported that Ms Assunta therefore left her assets to a fellow cat lover she met at the park and who later cared for her.

Contesting a will in Australia

While these stories may well warm the hearts of readers, family members can feel betrayed when a loved one leaves them out of the will in favour of the deceased’s four-legged friends.

In Australia, you can contest a will if you believe someone hasn’t left adequate provision for your welfare from their estate. Contact Gerard Malouf & Partners Will Dispute Lawyers today to learn more.

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