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 all 50 states and the District of Columbia now have specific statutes authorizing the creation of a pet trust for the care of animals. 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 for estate planning, even if you just want a simple will, you should insist that your attorney make provisions for the care your companion animals as part of your estate plan.
Frances Carlisle practiced as a trusts and estates attorney in New York City for over 30 years, and her practice consisted 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 was admitted to practice law in New York, New Jersey, Florida and California. She was a member of the Animal Law Committees of the New York City Bar Association and the American Bar Association. Frances Carlisle is retiring from the practice of law but can help with questions and referrals to other attorneys.
She continues to write and speak about the value of pet trusts and other estate planning methods for the continuing care of companion animals. She appears on various television shows to discuss the importance of estate planning to provide for the care of companion animals.
"Remember the Family Pet in Estate Planning" New York Law Journal , July 16, 2004 (PDF)
TV Clips about Pet Trusts
CBS News - CBS News (Video - mp4)
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)
Law Office of Frances Carlisle
20 East 9th Street #5H New York, New York 10003
Phone: 917 902-3220
(calls accepted from noon to 5pm only)