The Union Recorder

Top Stories

January 22, 2013

What happens to your pet when you die?

Survey shows only 17 percent have made legal arrangements

Many people say their pet is almost like a member of the family, but when it comes time to make out their will, few provide for the care of their pet after they're gone.

A study commissioned by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) polled 1,000 pet owners nationwide and found only 17 percent had taken any legal action to provide for the care for their dog, cat or other pet.

Not legally binding

The survey found that, of people who have made some arrangements for their pets, the most common form is unofficial and outside a legal arrangement. They usually ask a close friend or family member to take responsibility in the event of their death. ASPCA says that may not be adequate.

"Millions of companion animals are surrendered to shelters each year, some because their owners did not establish continuing care for their animals in the event that they were unable to do so," said Kim Bressant-Kibwe, trusts and estates counsel for the ASPCA. "This study offers evidence of the problem that we suspected – pet parents need to begin to plan for their pets' long-term well-being."

How exactly do you accomplish that? A few years ago your attorney might have given you a funny look when you broached the subject of putting your pet in your will. Today, however, they are usually the ones who bring it up.

You can't leave your dog money

Despite stories of rich people dying and leaving a fortune to their poodle, it doesn't work that way. You can't leave money directly to your pet.

In Arrington v. Arrington, a Texas court ruled in 1981 that, "A dog, for all its admirable and unique qualities, is not a human being and is not treated in the law as such."

The law considers pets "property," and one type of property cannot receive other property -- money -- in a will. That means you have to find another solution, and it turns out there are several.

Other solutions

ASPCA said it has collaborated with LegalZoom, the online legal form site, to created a Pet Protection Agreement that can be filed with a last will and testament. It allows pet owners to establish continuing care for all of their animals when they are not able to care for them.

Created by animal law attorney Rachel Hirschfeld, the Pet Protection Agreement allows pet owners to appoint a guardian for their pets, as well as set aside funds to ensure that their pets receive the same standard of care to which they're accustomed.

You can also set up a pet trust, allowing you to legally establish for your pet's care if you die or are incapacitated. It allows you to determine where the pets will go, what food they will eat and even which veterinarian they will see.

Put unofficial agreements in your will

If you have an informal agreement with a friend or family member to care for your pet if you die, Hirschfeld and other pet experts say it is important to make sure it's covered legally. The easiest way to do it is inserting a clause in your will.

The clause will state that you wish your pet to go to a certain person and that an amount of money from your estate will go to this person to pay for the care.

The legal website Nolo.com provides this sample clause for providing for your pet in you will:

"If my dog, Taffy, is alive at my death, I leave her and $3,000 to be used for her care to Brian Smith. If Brian is unable to care for Taffy, I leave her and the $3,000 to be used for her care to Susan McDermott."

Nolo.com points out that the money and dog will go to Brian but there's no guarantee Brian will use it to care for Taffy. Legal experts at the site suggest leaving your pet to someone you trust.

Big mistake

Whatever you do, don't try to leave money directly to your pet. No attorney would allow you to make this mistake but it could be an issue with do-it-yourself wills.

Should you try to leave money directly to a dog or cat, the court will probably void that part of the will and award the money to another beneficiary. Your pet would be on their own.

Legal Zoom's Pet Protection Agreement costs between $39 and $79 and, like a last will and testament, is a legally-binding document. It covers all of your current and future pets, gives you the ability to leave whatever amount of money you choose to care for your pets, and name pet guardians and a shelter of last resort.

Story provided by ConsumerAffairs.

Click here to subscribe to The Union-Recorder print edition. http://tinyurl.com/6qdm4oj

Click here to subscribe to The Union-Recorder e-edition. http://unionrecorder.newspaperdirect.com/epaper/viewer.aspx

1
Text Only
Top Stories
  • web break-1.jpg Do your genes make you procrastinate?

    Procrastinators, in my experience, like nothing better than explaining away their procrastination: General busyness, fear of failure, and simple laziness are just a handful of the excuses and theories often tossed around. Now researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder have added another option to the list: genetics.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • web break-1.jpg Raw oysters spike U.S. rise in bacterial infections, CDC reports

    Raw oysters, so good with hot sauce, increasingly can carry something even more unsettling to the stomach: A bacteria linked to vomiting, diarrhea and pain.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • web break-1.jpg Guilty plea to murder in Macon law grad slaying

    A week before his trial was set to begin, the man accused of killing and dismembering a law school classmate in Macon pleaded guilty Monday to malice murder.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • web break.jpg Georgia online tuition dropping for first year

    Jenni Small has good reason for avoiding 8 a.m. world literature classes at Dalton State College in northern Georgia. The 23-year-old works night shifts as an operator for carpet manufacturer Shaw while finishing her bachelor's degree in mathematics.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • web break-1.jpg Deal set to sign bill expanding gun rights in Ga.

    Gov. Nathan Deal is expected to sign legislation next week expanding gun rights in Georgia.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • web break-1.jpg To sleep well, you may need to adjust what you eat and when

    Sleep.  Oh, to sleep.  A good night's sleep is often a struggle for more than half of American adults.  And for occasional insomnia, there are good reasons to avoid using medications, whether over-the-counter or prescription.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Screen Shot 2014-04-16 at 12.51.22 PM.png VIDEO: Toddler climbs into vending machine

    A child is safe after climbing into and getting stuck inside a claw crane machine at a Lincoln, Neb., bowling alley Monday.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • web break-1.jpg Deal signs medical school scholarship regulation

    Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal has signed legislation requiring some recipients of a state medical school scholarship to work in rural areas.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • web break-1.jpg GA insurance commissioner releases enrollment data

    State Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner Ralph Hudgens says nearly 150,000 Georgians will be insured through policies they bought through the federal health care marketplace.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • web break-1.jpg Ga. alters state employee health insurance program

    The Georgia Department of Community Health announced Tuesday that it is looking to increase the number of companies participating in the State Health Benefit Plan and will offer more coverage options for state employees, including HMOs, beginning next year.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

Poll
AP Video
Bon Jovi Helps Open Low-income Housing in Philly Pipeline Opponents Protest on National Mall Hagel Gets Preview of New High-tech Projects S.C. Man Apologizes for Naked Walk in Wal-Mart New Country Music Hall of Fame Inductees Named 'Piles' of Bodies in South Sudan Slaughter New Yorkers Celebrate Cherry Blossom Blooms SCOTUS Hears Tv-over-Internet Case Justice Dept. Broadening Criteria for Clemency Chief Mate: Crew Told to Escape After Passengers 'Miss Meadows' Takes Holmes Back to Her Roots Biden: Russia Must Stop Talking, Start Acting David Moyes Out As Manchester United Manager Raw: Leopard Bites Man in India Iowa College Finds Beauty in Bulldogs High Court to Hear Dispute of TV Over Internet Stowaway Teen Forces Review of Airport Security
Facebook
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Stocks
NDN Video
Viral: It's Not Pitbull - It's Amy Poehler! Raw: Leopard Bites Man in India Jenna Dewan-Tatum Strips Down Rise of the Milkbots TRENDING: Brian Williams Raps 'Gin and Juice' on ‘Tonight Show’ Middle School heroes rescue students from burning bus WHOPPER OF FISHING STORY: Florida man catches massive Mako shark Maks Chmerkovskiy's "DWTS" Meltdown The many faces of Mike Woodson Ape Builds A Fire And Toasts Marshmallows In Amazing BBC Video Manchester Utd sack manager David Moyes "RHOA's" Dramatic Brawl High school, College Drug Ring Busted In Montgomery County High Court to Hear Dispute of TV Over Internet Raw: Keflezighi, Jeptoo Win Boston Marathon Teen hitchhikes in wheel well of flight from California to Hawaii Lindsay Lohan's Jaw-Dropping Secret President Sends Message To Boston And Marathon Runners LA Pastor Attracts Churchgoers with Pot Lauren Stoner Shows Off Her Incredible Bikini Body