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There is a trend htotadDUSTYappening around the country involving family members leaving the beloved pets of a deceased relative at the local shelter. You may have seen this first hand. It is truly heart breaking. In this article we will explore why this happens and some suggestions we have come up with to help. Please feel free to add your own thoughts and experiences, we learn much when we share with each other.

First, we understand it is not always possible for a family member to take in someone’s pet. There are many solid reasons why, in fact, it would be a harmful event, for both the new family and the dog in question. But we sure do not want to keep finding these dear old seniors in a kill shelter either, turned loose on the streets or put down just because a home could not be found.

In my inquiry into this issue one of the main themes was; the owner should take responsibility for their pet by pre-planning. Questions arise like: but what if they are just now thinking about this issue? What if they have not a clue how to "pre-plan, what is that"? They might not have been even thinking about their own life much less a dog or cat...

First we must realize: These pets are most often older dogs. Many of these pets may have been neglected (due to the age of the original owner, not because the owner did not love them) with expensive care required to make up for this lack of preventive care.

10bostoninshelter1If the family is not willing or cannot take in a pet they may not know where else to turn and out of lack of knowledge drop them at local shelters thinking they are really helping the dog. (Not everyone understands what shelters tasks are). Many times, because these pets are older their chances of being adopted are very low. Many times they never leave the shelters.

One of the most interesting pre-planning methods I have come across is putting your pet(s) in your will. Have you heard of this?

The advice suggests that by putting your wishes for the future of your pets in your will, your family will know what to do. Do you have a plan? Nice idea, but there is one catch.... Unfortunately many of these family members relinquish the pet before anyone even sees the will.

So make sure your family members know that you have made provisions for your pets in your will. If the family needs additional incentive, tell those family members that the law considers pets to be property so if they deprive the rightful person of your pet they could be liable.

It was suggested to make sure that even members of the extended family that you love and trust could be appointed guardians.

Another idea is to put into the will, money for the pet with a trusted local group which specializes in senior pet rescue. This would release the family from having to take in a pet and ensure the senior dog has a safe home to go to. This needs to be agreed to by both the owner and the rescue, maybe a power of attorney, for the rescue to take possession of the pet if the owner becomes ill or unable to care for the dog even before the death of the owner and finalized in the will.


Hey is there a lawyer in the house? It would be nice if we had some legal opinions on this idea.



Pet estate planning: It's easier than ever to include your pets in your estate plan.lawbook

So I bet most of us have never thought about this either....
In recent years, it has become easier than ever to make estate-planning arrangements for pets.
Did you know that now all but a handful of states, for example, have passed laws that permit pet owners to pass on assets for their care? Illinois began allowing residents to create trusts for their pets in 2005. Since then, awareness of pet trusts has risen, and animal law is one of the fastest-growing legal specialties, according to the American Bar Association. Do you know if your state will honor such a transfer of assets for your pets care?  

If pet owners don't make arrangements, the outcome for their animals can be uncertain. If left to chance after the owner’s death, or incapacitation, the animals may be left without proper care or be taken to a shelter where the animals may be euthanized.    

Some people leave bequests for their pets in wills. But that isn't always the best option because the purpose of a will is to distribute property, and instructions are unenforceable, according to the 2010 book "Petriarch: The Complete Guide to Financial and Legal Planning for a Pet's Continued Care." In other words, Jane might get the house and the cat, but there's nothing in the will that compels her to keep the house maintained or the cat fed.

Wills are also subject to the probate process. A recent case in point is the Berwyn woman who died in December and stipulated in her will, written in 1988, that any animal in her care at the time of her death would be euthanized. The woman left most of her $1.4 million estate to animal causes, which suggests she cared deeply about pets. Still, her will sought a death sentence for Boots, a healthy 11-year-old cat. The will's executors at Fifth Third Bank, persuaded a Cook County probate judge last month to set aside that provision and spare the cat's life. The bank then gave more than $2,000 to Chicago's no-kill shelter, Cats Are Purrsons Too, to care for Boots while attempts are made to find her a new home.

Want to read more on this subject?
Pet Planning                                         
State Laws on Pet Trusts