Estate Planning For Pets

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Your Pet and Your Estate Plan

Our pets are like family, right? Some of us are guilty of spending more money on our pets than we'd like to admit! But according to the ASPCA, only 17% of dog and cat owners have completed an estate plan that takes into account their pet. 

Our firm can help create a "Protect Your Pet" plan, a pet trust, or make pet planning part of your Last Will & Testament or Living Trust. We can ensure your pets are taken care of, given the proper treatment, food, etc. Also, it is important to designate responsible guardians for your pet.

Many people think they will outlive their pet, but with pets being such an important part of our lives, why take the risk? Make sure your estate plan includes your pet. At our firm, we can help you achieve this goal.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Provision in Will to Kill The Cat Found Invalid

A case of estate planning for pets is decided in a Chicago court.

A Chicago judge has reversed a death sentence that has been hanging over Boots the cat for months.  The feline's owner, Georgia Lee Dvorak, died last Christmas Eve at age 76.  Dvorak left no survivors, and her will, written in 1988, included a provision directing that any cat or cats she owned at the time of her death be euthanized "in a painless, peaceful manner." 

But trust officers at Fifth Third Bank, which was appointed to manage Dvorak's $1.4 million estate, were reluctant to follow through on the will's terms when it came to Boots, age 11. 

The bank asked a Cook County (Chicago) probate court to set aside that provision of Dvorak's will.  In its arguments to the judge, the bank noted that Dvorak had left the the bulk of her estate to twelve animal-related charitable organizations.  They also cited legal precedents in which courts had spared other animals in similar legal predicaments, including two Irish setters in Pennsylvania who had been ordered destroyed in their owner's will, and horses in Vermont and Canada that had been similarly condemned.

The judge allowed the bank to search for a suitable home for Boots to live out the remainder of her life, and one was found.  Cats-are-Purrsons-Too agreed to care for Boots provided it could receive a $2,000 endowment.  On April 3, 2012, the judge ruled that $1,000 of Dvorak's estate could go toward the endowment, and the bank agreed to forego fees of $1,000, according to an article in the Chicago Tribune.   

In its fact sheet "Providing for Your Pet's Future Without You," the Humane Society of the United States warns that when a pet owner puts a request in a will that an animal be put to death, "that provision is often ruled invalid by the legal system when the animal is young or in good health and when other humane alternatives are available."

Monday, March 7, 2011

Don't Forget Your Pets


Many of our clients have furry friends in their homes that offer unconditional love to their owners. For many, our dogs, cats and other animals are a special part of our family. In return, if you pass before your pets, or you get sick and can't care for them, you should really consider putting in place at least provisions in your will and power of attorney, if not a pet trust.


Here are a few specifics tips to consider when planning your estate with pets in mind:


  1. Talk with someone or an organization in advance if you want that person or organization to watch after your pet in the event that something happens to you. See what they will need in order to take this job on.
  2. Consider leaving a sum of money in your will for each pet, depending on your pet's age, medical condition and other needs. Coordinate with your estate planning attorney and financial advisor to ensure there is enough liquidity available for this.
  3. Make sure your power of attorney appoints your agent or someone else to care for your pets. Make sure that the power of attorney allows for at least reasonable compensation for the care of your pet, and also the ability for your agent to gift money for the care and maintenance of your pet.
  4. A pet trust may be useful if you wish for an account to be established that will provide for your pet over the rest of his or her life. Any unused funds would pass on to contingent beneficiaries or charities.


Have you thought about your pets in your estate plan? If not, please call our firm at 215-706-0200 to schedule a complimentary estate planning consultation.

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The Law Offices of Jeremy A. Wechsler assist clients with Estate Planning matters in Willow Grove, PA as well as Abington, Hatboro, Dresher, Horsham, Bryn Athyn, Huntingdon Valley, Fort Washington, Jenkintown, Glenside, Oreland, Warminister, Wyncote, Ambler, Elkins Park, Flourtown, Philadelphia, Warrington, Cheltenham, Gwynedd Valley, Jamison, Feasterville Trevose, Richboro, North Wales, Blue Bell, Lafayette Hill, King of Prussia, Collegeville, Oaks, Phoenixville, Oxford Valley, Langhorne, Penndel, Bristol, Fairless Hills, Bensalem, Plymouth Meeting, Furlong, Philadelphia County, Bucks County and Montgomery County.

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