Pets of the Rich and Famous Puttin’ Paws on Amazing Estates

March 22, 2023

None of these little critters are “Ruffing It.” If any living being deserves to inherit a fortune, it is the dogs, cats and other pets of the wealthy. Yet the animal-loving stars and business moguls would probably say it is a small price to pay for the love they receive from their critter companions.

The late Betty White was probably the best-known example of this. Famous for her lifelong love of animals, she took that affection to the next level when she died on Dec. 31, 2021. White reportedly left a big chunk of her estate to her animals – although most of it went to her human family.

Few details of White’s estate are available publicly, but the facts on other celebrity pet heirs are well known. Here are just a few:

The World’s Most Famous Pet Heirs

  • Oprah Winfrey’s Dogs: $30 MillionThe billionaire businesswoman has mothered 20 dogs over the years, and her love for them has been well-documented in O magazine. “Over the years, I have felt the truest, purest love. . . is the love that comes from your dog,” the magazine quoted her as saying in an episode of her Super Soul Sunday episodes. She shares her home and heart with three “babies”: springer spaniels Sunny and Lauren and cocker spaniel Sadie. Winfrey did not just leave money to her friends; she wisely set up the pups with a trust that will provide the pampering they’ve grown accustomed to as one of the OWN founder’s own.
  • Leona Helmsley’s Maltese: $12 MillionShe was known as the Queen of Mean for her harsh business tactics, but the real estate mogul was a real softie when it came to Trouble, her cute little Maltese. Helmsley left him a tasty treat of $12 million, which was $12 million more than she left to her two grandchildren. The inheritance brought rabid reactions from the public, and Trouble got some extremely troubling death threats. After Helmsley died in 2007, a judge reduced the amount to $2 million and gave the grandkids $6 million.
  • Gigoo the Hen: $10 MillionTalk about gourmet chicken feed! Some may cluck at the idea of a pet hen, but Gigoo was one of many creatures beloved by British publishing magnate Miles Blackwell and his wife. The childless couple were well-known animal lovers who put their money where their hearts were. They set up a $42.5 million trust to benefit arts, music and animal welfare causes and left Gigoo millions. Miles Blackwell set up the trust after his wife died, and just in time: He passed away just three weeks later.
  • Majel Barrett-Roddenberry’s Dogs: $4 MillionThe widow of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry left her dogs an out-of-this-world trust fund worth $4 million. Not only that, but she also set aside an additional $1 million to hire someone to care for them. The money ensured a very good life for the pups, who got to go where few pets had gone before: straight into the lap of luxury.
  • The Posner Pooches: $3 Million and a MansionGail Posner was an heir to one of Miami Beach’s biggest family fortunes, and the money she left to her three dogs was nothing to sniff at: $3 million plus her seven-bedroom waterfront mansion worth a reported $8 million. Her estranged son got a measly $1 million and contested the will, charging that his mom had been unduly influenced by her waitstaff. Publicity about the estate focused on one particular Posner pet: Conchita the chihuahua, who got a private bedroom, weekly spa treatments and a $15,000 Cartier necklace. Good girl!
  • Michael Jackson’s Chimpanzee: $2 MillionThe story of the $2 million bequest to Bubbles was a thriller at the time, although it was later outshone by much larger pet estates. Jackson and Bubbles had been making news from the moment Jackson adopted him and began treating him like a human son. So it should not have been surprising that the King of Pop would leave money to his primate pal, just as he would for any human heirs. Bubbles got the cash and a new home in a wildlife sanctuary, where he continues to live a more chimp-like life.

For All Heirs Great and Small

Whether they are “just like your children” or are your children, your loved ones deserve to be well cared for after you are gone – and you deserve the peace of mind that comes from ensuring they are. For a free consultation about your options, call us at (954) 251-0332, email or use the contact form on the homepage of this website. Our attorneys are fluent in English, Spanish and Russian.