Building Legacies that Last Estate Planning and Elder Law

Pet Cremation

240_F_34387211_kDyD2ZEeXLQgsnoMgadw7NpLVC5PRje1You now have the option to have your pet cremated and keep the ashes in an urn at home.

A recent trend is for people to treat their pets just like any other member of their family. It is no longer just a dog or a cat. Your pet is a beloved member of your family, due the same consideration as any other member of your family.

While not everyone sees their pets in this way, more and more people do.

That has implications not just for how pets are treated in life, but also how they are treated in death.

For example, there is now a growing trend for funeral homes to offer cremation for pets as PA reports in "Pet Cremation Industry Gains Popularity."

For the relative small price of a few hundred dollars, people can have their pets cremated. The price normally includes an urn to hold the ashes, which people can take home with them.

Perhaps more important than what will be done with your pet when it passes away, is what will be done with your pet when you pass away.

Your pet cannot get a job to support itself. You might treat it like any other human family member, but it is not that human.

Therefore, if you want to make sure that your pet is taken care of, you need to make plans. There are several different ways that you can do so in an estate plan.

You can designate someone to take care of your pet and set money aside for that purpose. You can even create a pet trust with your pet as the beneficiary.

If you want to make sure your beloved pet is taken care of after you pass away, then talk to an estate planning attorney about how to do that.

Reference: PA (June 23, 2017) "Pet Cremation Industry Gains Popularity."


Lawsuit over a Dog’s Trust Fund

Bigstock-Elder-Couple-With-Bills-3557267[2]Pet trusts have become an increasingly popular way for pet owner’s to make sure that their pets are taken care after the owner passes away. As with other types of trusts, they too can lead to disputes as a New York case illustrates.

When Patricia Bowers passed away in 2010, the care of her dog, Winnie Pooh, was given over to her friend Virginia Hanlon. Bowers also left a $100,000 trust fund for the care of the animal.

Hanlon has filed a lawsuit claiming that she has received very little of that money.

She claims that the estate executor, Harriet Harkavy, is intentionally saving the money that is supposed to go for the dog’s care so Harkavy can donate it to charity and win points within her social circle. Bowers also states that a check for an emergency veterinary bill bounced, but that she was later reimbursed with a valid check.

The UPI reported this story in “Lawsuit filed in New York over handling of dachshund's $100,000 trust fund.” For her part, Harkavy claims that Hanlon has received everything she is entitled to under the terms of the trust.

What this case illustrates is that trusts for pets need to be treated just like any other trust and other estate planning documents. It is important that everyone involved who has authority is on the same page and will be able to work out their differences.

Ultimately, the trustee must also be someone who inspires trust in the beneficiaries. If not, then disagreements are likely to lead to expensive and unnecessary lawsuits, which are the very things that good estate plans are designed to avoid.

Reference: UPI (Aug. 1, 2016) “Lawsuit filed in New York over handling of dachshund's $100,000 trust fund.”