Paws off My Money! Manhattan Dachshund at Center of $100,000 Trust Fund Battle

An unassuming Manhattan dachshund named Winnie Pooh is at the center of a fierce court battle after his very own $100,000 Trust fund has failed to materialize.

Paws off My Money! Manhattan Dachshund at Center of $100,000 Trust Fund Battle

The dog’s owner Patricia Bowers, an unmarried economist who died six years ago, appointed friend and neighbor Virginia Hanlon to take care of her beloved pooch in her absence.


But Hanlon has filed a lawsuit with Manhattan Surrogate’s Court, claiming the money she is supposed to receive for the dog’s care has not come through.


The Will states that Bowers’ friend and lawyer, Harriet Harkavy, who is the Executor of the estate, should be paying Hanlon a quarterly sum, but the dog’s Guardian said in a suit that she has only received a few $10 cheques, reports DNA Info.


Bowers, who wasn’t married and had no children, left Winnie Pooh to Hanlon because Hanlon routinely cared for her pets when she travelled, according to the New York Post.


Hanlon, who lives near Union Square, claims the dog costs $6,000 a year in routine care costs which include dog walkers, feeding and medical procedures.


The angry Gramercy Park resident said she had to fork out $5,775 emergency orthopedic surgery for Winnie Pooh last year and although she eventually got a reimbursement, the cheque initially bounced due to insufficient funds.


But Hanlon has not only accused Harkavy of sloppy financial management, she also claims that Harkavy is using her position to boost her own social standing.


In 2013, Harkavy had reportedly proposed paying Hanlon a $30,000 lump sum and then donating $70,000 to the Animal Medical Center on York Avenue, but Hanlon says the charity should only receive whatever is left in the Trust after the dog dies.


‘What a coup that would have been for Ms. Harkavy. She would have been feted and lauded amongst her Sutton Place friends for advancing the payment for the sake of charity,’ she huffed in court papers.


Hanlon is now requesting back payments to cover the dog’s care to date.


But Harkavy claimed that Hanlon is ‘misinformed’ in a 2015 letter filed to the court and wrote: ‘My dear friend Pat Bowers…would be aghast at your very hostile and certainly unpleasant attitude toward me.’


And attached to the letter is a bank statement showing a $94,000 balance in Winnie Pooh’s Trust.


Speaking out this week, she added that Hanlon has ‘gotten everything she should by law and by the terms of the Trust.’


While the majority of us won’t have the benefit of a Trust fund amounting to hundreds of thousands of pounds, it’s becoming increasingly popular among the particularly affluent to ensure money is made available for the care of a pet after death.


This is also sometimes done at the expense of other family members.


There was a case in 2015 where New York accountant, Rose Ann Bolasny, left £1 million to her pet Maltese terrier instead of her two sons. Mrs Bolsany told the Daily Mail:

“Prior to [changing my Will] I discussed having Bella Mia included in the Trust fund with my sons and they totally understood.

“I explained to them that I know they love Bella Mia very much but I wanted to make sure that if anything happens to us she was taken care in the way that she’s used to.

“My sons at that point were not part of that house because it’s a recent purchase.”


Another contentious case of leaving money to a pet was US socialite Gail Posner’s son, who immediately disputed a Will which left $3 million and a $8.4 million house to her 3 pet dogs, while he only received a paltry $1 million.


It’s clear there is wide practice in leaving riches to pets, whether genuinely for the benefit of the animal or simply to spite family members. However, the most famous case of a Trust fund set up for a dog was that of real estate mogul, Leona Helmsley. Leona died in 2007 leaving £12 million to her Maltese, Trouble. A judge subsequently ruled the amount to be excessive and gave $10 million to charity.


None of the above however matches up to, what Shortlist names one of the world’s richest animals, a German Shepherd called Gunther when Karlotta Liebenstein, a German countess, left him $145 million (£95 million) when she died.

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