small golden labrador retriever on a silver chain looking to the left

We love our pets. We even sometimes treat them better than other human beings; we spoil them, pamper them, and in some cases, treat them as if they were our children. While many of us include provisions in our Wills for the care and well-being of our pets, some animals (just like humans) have struck it rich. Some pets were lucky enough to inherit vast sums of money ( Here, we take a look at the top five pets that inherited staggering amounts, making them the richest animals in history.

The German Shepherd who is richer than you

The Poodle with an Investment Portfolio

Gigoo

Rags to Riches: The Stray Cat Worth Millions

Blackie: The Cat Who Inherited a Fortune

1. Gunther IV – The German Shepherd

Estimated Inheritance: $375 million

Leading our list is Gunther IV, a German Shepherd. Gunther IV inherited his fortune from his father, Gunther III, who had been bequeathed a vast sum by his owner, the German Countess Karlotta Liebenstein, when she passed away in 1992. With a dedicated staff and properties around the world (including a mansion in Miami), Gunther IV lives a life most humans can only dream of. It’s even rumored that Madonna’s Miami mansion was once purchased by this affluent canine.

2. Toby Rimes – The Poodle with an Investment Portfolio

Estimated Inheritance: $80 million

Toby Rimes, a poodle living in New York, inherited a fortune from Ella Wendel. The tale gets intriguing when we learn that Toby wasn’t the first to inherit this wealth. In fact, he’s the latest in a line of poodles, all named Toby, inheriting the initial fortune. The wealth has grown over time, thanks to shrewd investments.

3. Gigoo – The Clucking Millionaire

Estimated Inheritance: $15 million

Gigoo, a Scots Dumpy hen, was bequeathed a fortune by British publisher Miles Blackwell. While Blackwell and his wife had many animals, Gigoo was the sole beneficiary. This feathery heiress was mentioned in Blackwell’s will, ensuring her future was well taken care of.

4. Tommaso – From Stray Alley Cat to Millionaire Mouser

Estimated Inheritance: $13 million

Tommaso’s story is as touching as it is unbelievable. A former stray found in Rome’s alleyways, Tommaso was adopted by Maria Assunta, the widow of an Italian real estate mogul. When Assunta died at 94, she had no living relatives. Hence, she left her vast fortune to the cat via her nurse, who was entrusted with taking care of Tommaso.

5. Blackie – The Record-holding Feline

Estimated Inheritance: $12.5 million

The Guinness World Record-holder for the wealthiest cat, Blackie, inherited his fortune when his owner, a British antiques dealer named Ben Rea, passed away. Rea left the bulk of his fortune to Blackie, ignoring his own family in the process. Blackie’s fortune was eventually divided among three cat charities which were entrusted with ensuring Blackie’s care.

Pets inheriting vast sums of money is becoming more common. Some are richer than many other human beings. Although pets should be cared for, would you leave everything to your beloved Fido or feline? Everyone wants to make sure their pets are taken care of, but do you think these cases are extreme, or is this something that you would do if you had the money? FormalWill.ca developed Canada’s first and only Pet Will?  Visit formalwill.ca to create your Pet Will and ensure that your pets are taken care of.

Antique Heirlooms

Imagine a scenario where you inherit a small fortune from a rich aunt who has passed away. It’s the stuff of..soap operas. Someone is in dire financial straits and along comes an inheritance from a rich relative who you knew nothing about. If that relative left behind a small fortune in the form of gold jewellery, or heirlooms passed down to you. You might be one of the lucky ones with a small fortune on your hands. What’s the next step? How would you figure out the value of this “lucky pot of gold,” that you’re sitting on? Whether it’s antique furniture, jewelry, artwork, or other valuable items, an appraisal might be the next step. You will need a professional to come in an evaluate the items at hand. Here is an overview of how appraisals for heirlooms typically work:

Who do I get to appraise my heirlooms? 

How do I figure out the worth of my heirloom?

Looking over the heirloom

Do your research

What should a report on my heirloom include?

Knowing the worth of your heirloom 

Who examines my heirloom? 

Research and Selection of Appraiser: Begin by researching and selecting a qualified appraiser who specializes in the type of heirloom you wish to have appraised. Look for professionals with relevant certifications, such as those from reputable appraisal associations like the International Society of Appraisers (ISA) or the Appraisers Association of America (AAA).

How much is my heirloom worth?

Initial Consultation: Schedule an initial consultation with the chosen appraiser to discuss the heirloom, its history, and any relevant documentation or provenance you may have. Provide as much information as possible, including the item’s age, origin, previous owners, and any accompanying paperwork or certificates.

Examining the Heirloom 

Physical Examination: During the appraisal process, the appraiser will physically examine the heirloom. They will assess its condition, authenticity, craftsmanship, and any unique characteristics that contribute to its value. In some cases, the appraiser may need to handle or photograph the item for documentation purposes.

Market Research

Market Research: The appraiser will conduct extensive research to determine the value of the heirloom. They will examine comparable items sold at auctions, private sales, and reputable marketplaces to assess the current market value. This research helps establish a fair market value for the heirloom based on its rarity, demand, condition, and other relevant factors.

Appraisal Report

Appraisal Report: Once the research is complete, the appraiser will prepare an appraisal report. This document contains a detailed description of the heirloom, including its dimensions, materials, condition, and any notable features. The report will also include the appraiser’s professional opinion of the item’s value, supported by market research, relevant historical data, and their expertise.

Value Determination

Value Determination: The appraisal report will specify the value assigned to the heirloom. Depending on the purpose of the appraisal, such as insurance coverage, estate planning, or sale, different value types may be assigned, such as fair market value, replacement value, or liquidation value. The appraiser will explain the assigned value and its significance in the context of your specific needs.

Keeping updated

Appraisal Updates: It’s important to note that the value of heirlooms can fluctuate over time due to market conditions and changes in demand. Therefore, it is advisable to periodically update appraisals, especially for high-value or appreciating items, to ensure accurate insurance coverage and documentation of their worth.

Getting appraisal done is an expert opinion and should be obtained from a qualified professional. It is advisable to choose an appraiser who is independent, unbiased, and has no financial interest in the item being appraised. By investing in a thorough and reputable appraisal, you can better understand the value of your heirlooms and make informed decisions about their preservation, insurance, or potential sale.

Casket at a funeral

It’s not the most pleasant thing to thing about: would a casket or burial look better at your funeral? People don’t like thinking about making arrangements for their own funeral. Just like Will creation, it is something that you shouldn’t put off. It will spare headaches and confusion for your loved ones if you have everything pre-planned. When a loved one passes away, the last thing one wants is the stress of organizing their final send-off. This guide sheds light on the top providers of funeral services in Canada.

Read about the top choices for funeral services in Canada in our list below.

Arbor Memorial

Mount Pleasant Group

Dignity Memorial

Park Lawn Corporation

Funeral Co-operative

McKenzie Funeral Services

Country Hills Crematorium

1. Arbor Memorial

This is a leading name in funeral and cremation services across Canada. Established in 1947, their comprehensive services range from pre-planning funerals to cemetery and memorialization facilities.

Standout Feature: Arbor Memorial offers ‘Reflections’ — a special ceremony that personalizes the memory of the deceased with anecdotes, pictures, and mementoes.

2. Mount Pleasant Group

Operating primarily in the Greater Toronto Area, Mount Pleasant Group has a heritage spanning over a century. Known for their compassionate and professional services, they cater to diverse cultural and religious needs.

Standout Feature: Their ‘Online Tributes’ allow families to create a digital memorial space where friends and family can pay their respects remotely.

3. Dignity Memorial

Dignity Memorial stands out for its vast network of funeral homes, crematories, and cemeteries across Canada. Their services are imbued with professionalism and empathy.

Standout Feature: They offer ‘Bereavement Travel Services,’ assisting family members with travel arrangements to attend the funeral.

4. Park Lawn Corporation

A Toronto-based company, Park Lawn Corporation operates multiple funeral homes and cemeteries across Canada. Their approach is deeply rooted in understanding the uniqueness of each life and celebrating it accordingly.

Standout Feature: Their ‘Aftercare Services’ provide grieving families with essential resources and support post-funeral.

5. Funeral Co-operative of Ottawa

As a co-operative, this Ottawa-based provider ensures services are community-driven and reasonably priced. Funeral Co-operative of Ottawa takes pride in being transparent, ensuring families make informed choices.

Standout Feature: The co-operative model ensures that profits are reinvested into the community, ensuring continual improvements in services.

6. McKenzie Funeral Services

Vancouver’s McKenzie Funeral Services are known for their personal touch, ensuring that each funeral is a true reflection of the person’s life. Their services encompass various traditions, faiths, and customs.

Standout Feature: McKenzie offers ‘Eco-friendly Green Burials’ for those looking for environmentally sensitive options.

7. Country Hills Crematorium

Serving the Calgary region, Country Hills Crematorium specializes in providing dignified cremation services. Their compassionate approach is deeply valued by the communities they serve.

Standout Feature: They have a multi-faith chapel, accommodating various cultural and religious rites associated with cremation.

Making the Right Choice

Obviously, selecting a funeral or cremation service goes beyond the cost evaluation. It’s about understanding that the service provider aligns with the family’s wishes and the deceased’s preferences. Each of these funeral service providers brings a unique approach to end-of-life services.

Before making a decision, consider touring the various facilities, get an in-depth understanding of the services they offer, and gauge the costs offered by each provider. Grief is a challenging phase, and the right service provider can ensure that the journey is made slightly more bearable.

Life deserves a dignified closure. As you contemplate selecting a funeral or cremation provider in Canada, this guide should provide you with a basic understanding of the services these providers offer.

Overwhelming responsibilities come with being an Executor

Estate planning doesn’t have to be a complex, nebulous and confusing term. Estate planning is something that everyone must deal with, at one point or another in their lives. The regulations managing Estate planning vary from province to province, and the laws may differ in other countries. Two vital positions frequently discussed in Canadian estate planning are the Executor and the Power of Attorney (PoA). Both are two distinct roles, which this article will delve into:

Definitions

Duration and Timing

Scope of Responsibilities

Limitations

Appointing the Right Individuals

1. Definitions and Basic Understanding

Executor:

In the Canadian context, an Executor (sometimes referred to as a “liquidator” in Quebec) is a person or institution named in a Will to administer the estate and ensure that the deceased’s wishes, as specified in the Will, are carried out after their death.

Power of Attorney

A Power of Attorney is a document appoints which allows you to give someone else the authority over your financial affairs and property. It applies in situations where a Will would not apply.

2. Duration and Timing

How long does each role last? How long can you be an Executor? How long can you be appointed as a Power of Attorney?

Executor:

The role of the Executor in Canada happens upon the death of the testator (person who wrote the Will). The Executor’s responsibilities continue until the estate is fully settled, which, depending on the estate’s complexity, can range from a few months to several years.

Power of Attorney (POA):

A PoA is a Canadian legal document, allowing an individual (known as the grantor) to designate someone (referred to as an Attorney, not to be confused with a lawyer) to act on their behalf concerning financial or health matters, especially if they become incapacitated. Much like the role of an Executor, the range of time an Attorney has to deal with his/her specific duties often varies.

3. Scope of Responsibilities

The scope of responsibilities vary on the type of responsibilities/document that you create. The Executor of your Last Will and Testament has the following responsibilities listed below (this is only a brief overview):

Executor:

  • Asset Management: Identify, appraise, and safeguard the deceased’s assets, ensuring they adhere to Canadian laws.
  • Debt Payment: Address the deceased’s outstanding debts, including taxes—in collaboration with the Canada Revenue Agency when necessary.
  • Estate Distribution: Distribute the remaining assets to the beneficiaries, according to the will.
  • Legal Processes: Engage in the probate process if required and address any legal challenges to the Will.

The “Attorney” appointed to follow your wishes, (as outlined in your Power of Attorney document) has the following responsibilities, as listed below. These responsibilities vary upon the type of Power of Attorney, and the instructions you have outlined for him or her to follow.

Here is a brief overview:

Power of Attorney:

  • Medical Decisions (Healthcare PoA): Under a specific PoA for personal care, the attorney can make healthcare decisions on behalf of the grantor.
  • Financial Management: Oversee the grantor’s financial assets, which may include banking, investments, and bill payments.
  • Real Estate and Personal Property: In accordance with Canadian laws, manage or sell real estate and other assets.
  • Other Specified Powers: As detailed in the PoA document, this could include tasks like business decisions.

4. Limitations

Executor:

  • Guided by the Will: Canadian Executors are strictly bound by the directives of the will.
  • Pre-death Authority is Absent: The Executor’s authority is exclusively posthumous.

Power of Attorney:

  • Adhering to the Grantor’s Interest: Every decision made must prioritize the best interests of the grantor.
  • No Alterations to the Grantor’s Will: The attorney cannot modify any existing will of the grantor.
  • Scope Restricted by the Document: A POA operates within the stipulated boundaries of the document, respecting Canadian legal standards.

5. Appointing the Right Individual

Given the considerable responsibilities and potential challenges, it’s paramount for Canadians to choose reliable, adept individuals for both roles. It might sometimes be practical for one person to act in both capacities, but the pros and cons should be thoroughly evaluated.

It is very important that Canadians understand the differences between being an Executor, vs. being appointed as a Power of Attorney.