Law Office of Frances Carlisle

 20 East 9th Street #5H
 New York, New York  10003

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Planning for Your Pet is Important

More than 60 percent of American households have a pet. After Hurricane Katrina, 61 percent of pet owners told national pollsters they would refuse to evacuate ahead of a disaster if they could not take their pets. That shows that pets are not merely property, but important family members. More and more pet owners do not want to leave the care of their pets to chance and want to make provisions for the care of their pets in their wills.

Basically there are two ways to provide for the continuing care of your animals in a will or trust. The first is an outright disposition of an animal and funds for the animal’s care to a family member, friend or charity, and the second is the creation of a pet trust for the animal, either in a will or in a separate trust document. The pet trust offers more protection for the animal.

You may be surprised to learn that 46 states and the District of Columbia now have specific statutes authorizing the creation of a pet trust for the care of animals. The last time I checked, only Louisiana, Kentucky, Minnesota, and Mississippi did not have pet trust statutes. The law has changed rapidly in this area. At the time of publication of my article in the New York Law Journal entitled “Remember the Family Pet in Estate Planning,” only 20 states had pet trust statutes.

Pets have ended up on the street or being euthanized at shelters after their owners have died, so a plan for their care is important. Many of my clients come to me saying that they were dissatisfied because their former attorneys did not adequately address the issue of estate planning for the care of their animals. This needs to change and planning for the care of companion animals should become a standard part of the estate planning process. So if you go to an attorney to have estate planning, even if you just want a simple will, you should demand that your attorney make provisions for the care your companion animals as part of your estate plan.

 
About Frances Carlisle

Frances Carlisle has been practicing as a trusts and estates attorney in New York City for over 20 years, and her practice consists of estate planning and trust and estate administration. Ms. Carlisle has a B. A. from Barnard College, an M. S. from Columbia University and a J. D. from the University of California at Davis. She is admitted to practice law in New York, New Jersey, Florida and California. She is member of the Animal Law Committees of the New York City Bar Association and the American Bar Association.

She writes and speaks on pet trusts and other estate planning methods for the continuing care of companion animals. She is on the boards of several charities that help animals and has appeared on various television shows to discuss the importance of estate planning to provide for the care of companion animals.

 

Articles         

"Helmsley’s Pet Trust Raises Issues for Owners of All Income Levels" New York Law Journal , May 29, 2009 (PDF)

"Remember the Family Pet in Estate Planning" New York Law Journal , July 16, 2004 (PDF)

More articles written by Frances Carlisle



Lectures

Continuing Legal Education lectures given by Frances Carlisle


TV Appearances

CBS News, Early Show

Fox News, Dayside (Video - wmv file)

Animal Planet and various other news programs


Conferences Organized by Frances Carlisle for the NYC Bar Association

Global Warming Conference-The Animal Connection , September 29, 2007 (PDF)

Legal Issues Related to the Protection of the Horse , September 28, 2002 (PDF)

How to Form and Fund a New York Not-For-Profit Corporation , January 18, 2000 (PDF)

How Much is That Doggie in the Window? Puppy Mills--the Grim Reality , May 4, 1999 (PDF)


 

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