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Your state legislature at work: SB 685 makes it easier to leave your cash to your pets

July 22, 2008 |  3:06 pm

Mom_always_liked_me_bestLeona Helmsley made headlines last year when she left $12 million to her dog, Trouble, and left two of  her grandkids with nothing. Today, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger made it easier for Californians to follow in the "Queen of Mean's" footsteps by making it easier for Californians to include their pets in their wills. Our own Patrick McGreevey has the details:

Unlike most states, California law has treated  "pet trust funds" as honorary and therefore the trusts are often unenforceable, according to State Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco), who authored a bill signed Tuesday by the governor. “Pets are an important part of the American family,” Yee said. “SB 685 will make pet trusts enforceable and assure that the wishes of pet owners are respected.”

Perhaps the most famous 'pet trust' was revealed after the August 2007 death of billionaire hotelier Helmsley, who left $12 million in a trust for the care of her Maltese, Trouble, while leaving nothing to two of her grandchildren. Taxpayer activist Lew Uhler said pet owners can already make arrangements to have their pets cared for when the owners die. He ridiculed lawmakers for focusing on pet trusts when the state is facing a potential $15 billion budget deficit and is threatening to cut funds for human children.

"If the legislature has nothing better to do than mess with this kind of legislation, we really do need to rethink whether we need a full-time legislature," said Uhler, president of the National Tax Limitation Committee.

I'm guessing Uhler's pets can count on being cut out of his will.

-- Veronique de Turenne

Photo credit: Liz Baylen / Los Angeles Times