Planning For Your Pet

How can I take care of a pet after I die?  We’ve all heard stories of rich eccentrics who leave millions of dollars to their cat or dog in their will.  Unfortunately you can’t leave money to an animal.  You can however, set up a trust to care for the pet.  That’s what those stories are all about.

Take, for example, Leona Helmsley.  At the time of her death in 2007, she had a net worth of about 8 billion dollars.  She left her Maltese dog, Trouble, a 12 million dollar trust fund.  Needless to say this didn’t go over well with many people.  The result of all the fighting was that Trouble’s trust was reduced to a mere 2 million dollars that paid for his housing, food, vet bills and full time security for the rest of his life.  He died in 2010.

So, what is a regular person supposed to do about their pets after death?  The best option is to make arrangements in advance with a family member or friend to adopt the pet.  You can leave them a sum of money to help pay for the cost of care or even set up a trust to pay the costs of the pet.

It’s important to make arrangements in advance, preferably in writing.  Sadly, dealing with the death of a family member can bring out the worst in people.  They will fight over money and if they feel slighted they will fight out of spite.  Pets can get caught up in these fights and treated a pawns.

If you don’t have someone you trust or is willing to take your pet, you can contact some rescue groups that are devoted to your breed and see if they would be willing to take your pet.

Many pet owners want to be buried with their pets.  Until recently New York prohibited the burying of pets in a human cemetery.  In 2017 New York revised its law to allow the cremated remains of pets to be buried with their owners.  You might also think about burying your pet on your property.  While there is no New York State law prohibiting this, many Towns do prohibit this practice, so check before you start digging.

Hubert Plummer