Tag Archives: Doris Duke

This is my last will and testament…

If you love your dog, you should consider what would happen if you died.  Who would care for them?  One way of dealing with this issue is to have a pet trust.

To establish a pet trust you need to:

  • Nominate a trustee
  • Designate a caregiver (it would be best to consult this person in advance and make sure they are happy with the responsibility)
  • Set aside a nominated amount of funding for the trust
  • Clearly state what standard of care your dog should receive
  • Establish the trust’s duration (a certain length of time, likely to cover the rest of your dog’s natural life)
  • Designate a beneficiary who will receive any remaining funds once your dog passes
  • Name your dog(s) to be covered by the trust

Here are some more notable bequests to dogs:

Leona Helmsley (The Queen of Mean) set up a pet trust for her Maltese, Trouble.  It was a whopping $12 million.  After the will was contested, the dog’s trust was reduced by $10 million.

Leona Helmsley with her dog, Trouble

Leona Helmsley with her dog, Trouble

In 2010, socialite Gail Posner left a home and a $3 million trust fund to her three dogs.   These dogs were very pampered and were said to have been given weekly spa appointments, traveling to those appointments in a gold Cadillac. Conchita, a Chihuahua, April Maria, a Maltese, and Lucia, a Yorkshire Terrier were the beneficiaries.

Before both of these ladies made their bequests, there was German Countess Carlotta Liebenstein.  She left approximately £43 million to her pet dog Gunther III when she died in 1991.  Gunther III and his son, Gunther IV,  enjoyed the services of a personal maid, chauffeur and a pool.

In 2004, after 10 years of contention, the bank that served as executor for tobacco heiress Doris Duke’s estate agreed to compensate the caretakers of her dogs.  Although Duke had made provision for them in her will, the will was contested for a number of reasons.  The settlement involved over $100,000 to pay two of Duke’s former servants who were responsible for feeding, medicating and cleaning up after the dogs.  Two of the dogs died over the 10 years of fighting.  Only Robert, an old shepherd cross remained.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

Canine couture in Newport, Rhode Island

On September 22, Rough Point in Newport, Rhode Island,  hosted its 3rd annual Doggy Fashion Show.

The show was used to highlight autumn fashions for humans and their canine companions.  Proceeds from the event supported the Newport Restoration Foundation’s  education programs and the Potter League for Animals.   Newport pet boutique Wag Nation sponsored the show.

Photo by Meghan Sepe for the Newport Restoration Foundation

Rough Point is one of the homes of Doris Duke, an heiress to a tobacco fortune, philanthropist and art collector.  Located on historic Bellevue Avenue in Newport, Ms Duke ensured that her home would be preserved and opened to the public after her death in 1993.   She founded the Newport Restoration Foundation to preserve not only hers but other mansions in Newport.

Ms Duke was a lover of animals, including dogs.  She had camels at Rough Point every summer and the damage to top edges of the mirrors in her conservatory is lasting evidence of the presence of the animals.  When I last toured Rough Point, the tour guide recalled an exchange between Ms Duke and a housekeeper.  The housekeeper complained about the damage Ms Duke’s dogs were causing to the furniture.  Ms Duke replied

‘They live here, you don’t.’

Mind kind of lady!