Heirs for Last Wills and Testaments Animals and Pets Part 1

About a number of people who have left things to their pets in their last will and testament.


Under the law, people are not necessarily considered to be out of their "sound minds" if they choose to leave their estates to their beloved pets instead of their families. In fact, animal heirs are relatively common. As long as the provisions of the will have no loopholes, most animals bequeathed large sums of money or valuable property will receive their inheritance, even if the will is contested, as often happens, by indignant relatives. Here are some examples.

* In 1972 an unnamed woman in Margate, South Africa, left her seven pet lizards pound 7,000 each. She specified that her husband could have the money only after the lizards died.

* Basil, a 22-year-old gray parrot, was guaranteed years of fresh lettuce, apples, oranges, and his favorite sweets when, in 1974, he was left pound 250 by his late owner, Miss Juliet Ferguson of Brighton, England.

* Miss Ethel Beesly of Ogden, Lancashire, England, left pound 450 to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) to care for her pet magpie and goose.

* In 1805, four dogs owned by a London resident named Berkeley were bequeathed pound 25 pensions. One of their ancestors had saved Berkeley's life by defending him against a band of thugs. When Berkeley died, he was surrounded by his four pets, and he left instructions to have busts of each dog made and placed on the four corners of his cemetery plot.

* Blackie, found as a very small stray kitten by Ivy Blackhurst, now dines on steak and salmon. In 1975 he was heir to a house, pound 22,000, and a housekeeper's services. When Blackie, who is 14, dies, the balance of the estate will go to the RSPCA.

* Buster, a tiger cat, was a victim of both the law and the media. He was originally heir to $100,000 of his master, Woodbury Rand's estate. However, legal maneuvers reduced the figure to $40,000-still not bad for an 8-year-old cat. Unfortunately, the stress and strain of instant wealth and fame proved too much for Buster, and he died within a year of his windfall. His caretaker was his sole heir.

* Morton Shirk left his tomcat Casey his home and all his worldly possessions. Despite Shirk's orders that the furniture was not to be moved by any of the house's future tenants-so as not to upset the cat-Casey disappeared. He was later ruled dead, and the house was sold by Shirk's relatives.

* Edward Chester, a Queensland, Australia, farmer, left pound 42,000 in 1972 to racing pigeons. He specified that the money should be used "to improve, breed, and race homing pigeons." His sister and six nephews contested the will.

* A sheep named Clwyd is the hero of One of the Family, a book by John Leeming. Mr. Leeming adopted the sheep when it was 10 weeks old. As it grew, it followed him everywhere. When Leeming died at age 69, he named Clwyd as beneficiary in his pound 302,416 will.

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