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Pets in your Will?
Old 06-10-2011, 12:30 AM   #1
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Pets in your Will?

I mentioned writing a will on another thread. Right now I don't have a will, but I'm single and childless, my parents and 3 siblings are all still living, and I'm pretty sure if I died intestate my worldly goods would go pretty much to who I'm planning to leave them to anyway. My IRAs and tax-deferred account all have designated beneficiaries, so I don't need a will to make sure that money goes where it's supposed to, and that's the majority of my assets. I'm pretty sure I'm not wealthy enough to need to be concerned about estate taxes. Really, about the only reason I think I really need to write a will is to make sure my cats would be OK if I died suddenly. I feel like I shouldn't just leave their fate to chance.

So has anyone else here thought about what will happen to your pets when you're not around to care for them any more, especially if you're single and can't assume your spouse and/or children would give them a home? Did you leave them money in your will, or name a guardian, or make them the beneficiary of an insurance policy, or just have an informal agreement with a friend to adopt of each others' animals when & if the need arises? I'm not talking about leaving more to your dog than your human heirs, like Leona Helmsley—just taking steps to make sure your animals don't end up at the pound with only a tiny chance of being adopted.
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Old 06-10-2011, 01:17 AM   #2
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If something were to happen to both DW and me, MIL has informally agreed to adopt our 2 cats (in return, we have informally agreed to adopt her menagerie in case of her early demise). As a result, MIL has been designated as the secondary beneficiary on my wife's IRA. The money from the IRA will serve to provide for the cats until their death. I suppose a similar arrangement could be put in place with a trusty friend or other family member.
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Old 06-10-2011, 01:25 AM   #3
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This is a good question. I haven't yet done anything about it since I'm married with 3 children (and DH has other adult children as well).

One thing that does concern me particularly with a sudden death is how does someone who may have control of the pets know about the will and provisions upon death?

I am aware that sometimes in the event of sudden death Animal Control will take custody of the pets. What steps can be taken in advance to make sure that someone knows to look at the will to see that provisions are made for the pets and that notice is given before something unfortunate happens?

Also, what if a relative takes custody of the pet and unknowing of the will (or, even worse, knowing of it) has the pet euthanized perhaps asserting that the pet is ill (elderly people often have elderly pets that are not suffering but do have various infirmities or chronic illnesses)?

Obviously the will can be left with one's executor but that assumes that the executor knows the terms of the will in advance and learns about the death in a timely -- perhaps even immediate -- manner.
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Old 06-10-2011, 06:31 AM   #4
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A co-worker found my dog for me through a pet rescue group. She does cat fostering in addition to her own two cats and small dog. I pay her to take my dog in when I travel, and he is happy there with her. She has asked me to adopt her dog if she would go suddenly, and she would take mine if the situation were reversed (her daughter would take her cats). We have both agreed to this arrangement, and I am confident that it would work out as planned and that all the animals would be happy until their own eventual demise.
If I am fortunate enough to live a long life, I think I might quit having a pet after a certain age. My 94 year old aunt declined to get another cat after her 18 year old Gypsy passed 4 years ago. She does miss having a cat, though, I think. I love cats but am mildly allergic to them, and my son professes to be almost asthmatic around them (I think he can be overly dramatic at times). He only comes home about once a year, but if he knew I had a cat here he would say I hated him and make excuses about coming home (ever). For this reason, I would not commit to any feline bequests.
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Old 06-10-2011, 07:20 AM   #5
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Yes, we have made arrangements for their care via our will, with funding for their care by the rescue group we have worked with for years, or a subsequent organization.

This assumes we still have our pets. We've already made a decision that our two current shelties will be the last pets we own. Over the last 30+ years we've had the breed, the average lifespan of our six dogs has been within the 12-15 year range. Current ages are 5 & 9. Assuming the younger one lives till 15, which means we will have no dogs after our age of 73 (assuming one of us is still alive). We don't think that we will be able to give them the attention they need (daily exercise/play) plus I'm sure that we will be looking to scaling back our activities at that time.

Additionally, if we move (apartment or elder community) the chance for taking our dogs with us would be a problem. We've had enough rescue dogs to understand that we would not want to be part of the "problem" by having a dog that we would have to give up, due to age. It's not fair to the dog - they are not "toys", to be discarded if you tire of them or have knowledge of your own long term plans.
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Old 06-10-2011, 09:11 AM   #6
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We have arranged that our executor (my sister's husband) will make arrangements for our pets and provide money from the estate for their care.
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Old 06-10-2011, 11:06 AM   #7
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We have allocated $25k to whoever takes on the care of our 2 cats. Currently DWs cousin is named in a separate letter. Her daughter loves cats but lives in London UK. Neither have any pets at present.
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Old 06-10-2011, 11:42 AM   #8
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Leona Helmsley left her Maltese "Trouble" most of her multi-million dollar estate (even though she had a son and grandchildren). I remember this quite well because in photos her dog was a dead ringer for my Maltese "Friskie", who died about 8 years ago. I had Friskie cremated, and her ashes sealed into a very striking Greek vase that I got as a wedding gift. I plan to have her ashes (and the ashes of any subsequent dogs) scattered with mine and LH's eventually.
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Old 06-10-2011, 11:54 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WhoDaresWins View Post
If I am fortunate enough to live a long life, I think I might quit having a pet after a certain age.
I often think about this...when are we "too old" to take on another pet? I am only 48 now, so I guess I have a few years to think still.
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Old 06-10-2011, 11:59 AM   #10
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We have a will and my son (from a previous marriage) gets custody and has agreed to take care of our kids (um, I mean dogs). He knows about the stipulation so if something happens he can take the appropriate actions.

He will receive a specified amount of money, in addition to his 'share' of the estate to take care of the dogs.
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Old 06-10-2011, 12:04 PM   #11
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If DH and I burst into flames at the same time, my SIL would take our pets.

My kitties are 15 and 19 years old...so more than likely they'll turn into dust before we do. After they're gone, there will be no more animals in our home.
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Old 06-10-2011, 01:25 PM   #12
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I told DW that if she dies before the dogs do I'd wrap her in Saran Wrap and stick her in the closet. Then when the dogs go I'd cremate them all together.

If we both go at the same time, DD would take the dogs. I hope that doesn't happen though, as she is severly allergic to them. As we get older we should probably focus on only owning hypoallergenic dogs like poodles or something.
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Old 06-10-2011, 02:14 PM   #13
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Hmmm, sounds like I might need to open up my "Mammalville" down here for a few of you folks with marginal choices for your pets in the event of your passing before I do!

Leave me a few bucks in your will and I'll happily take care of them, hypoallergenic or not!

I did like this guy who started up a pet care service in 2009 for those who believe in the Rapture-
http://eternal-earthbound-pets.com/
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Old 06-10-2011, 06:14 PM   #14
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I am all out of pets, and though I had dogs and occasionally cats (with former wife) almost my whole life except when I was in school or unmarried living in apartments, I figured if I got wiped out my doggie probably was looking at the pound. IMO, all of us who have cared for pets should work for humane euthanasia of unwanted animals, which as far as I know may be dominant now but was not in the fairly recent past.

Regarding taking over others' pets, or willing pets to others, I think it sometimes has unintended negative effects. My sister has two such dogs, and it has pretty much ruined her life. She doesn't realize this because she is so stubborn and clueless, but these poorly trained aged animals annoyed her husband enough by running up bills, destroying furniture and making the house basically unpleasant to occupy, that he finally had enough and left. Same with her adult daughter, who might have benefitted by being longer at home, but got tired of living in an animal menagerie. There is another issue. Sometimes pet related chores can become just one more thing to struggle with children over, and most parents will say that there are already plenty of struggles in those relationships anyway.

I know that a good owner/trainer if he/she starts early enough can train a dog very well, but not all owners are good trainers, and not all dogs are trainable, especially older ones.

Ha
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Old 06-11-2011, 10:04 AM   #15
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We've made arrangements for our cats. The youngest is 7 so he's unlikely to outlive both DH and I. Our plan is not to adopt any more and care for our current pets until they die.

It's tramatic for a pet, particularly an older one, when their owners pass away, can or longer care for them or give them up. For this reason, if we ever do adopt again, we'd wait until we are down to one or none and go for an older cat. This way we could provide a home for a hard to adopt animal plus the chance of the cat outliving us would be minimal.
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Old 06-11-2011, 10:34 AM   #16
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I saw an article in the paper that the Mrs. Helmsley's dog died the other day. It mentioned that something like $20M had been left to care for her dog and the court reduced it to $2M (figures not accurate). Guess the heirs will be getting some more money.
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Old 06-11-2011, 11:01 AM   #17
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If we end up catless in later years, we will consider adopting a senior cat that has been abandoned by their owners, either through death or moving into a senior's facility.
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Old 06-11-2011, 01:09 PM   #18
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This is a shame. I could do miracles for tens of thousands of patients in Central America with 1M only. History will judge us, the rich world, very badly.
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Helmsley's dog died the other day. It mentioned that something like $20M had been left to care for her dog
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Old 06-11-2011, 02:09 PM   #19
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This is a shame. I could do miracles for tens of thousands of patients in Central America with 1M only. History will judge us, the rich world, very badly.
It is a shame. I understand loving an animal, but leaving so many millions to a pet? It's heartbreaking to know so many people suffer needlessly for lack of money and other resources. I love animals and help at the shelter, but the kind of work you do is so much more important. I can't even begin to imagine the faces you've looked into.
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Old 06-11-2011, 02:53 PM   #20
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One of my nephews would be more than happy to take my dog if something happens to me. But no provision has been made in my will for it to happen.
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