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Pet protection in estate planning

According to the law, your cat is a piece of property like your computer, a cashmere sweater or favorite chair. Of course, people love their cats and dogs far more than they ever care for inanimate possessions. They are our friends and family.

So it is not surprising that many New Yorkers make arrangements for their beloved pets in their estate planning.

As the American Bar Assocation (ABA) notes, "only legally enforceable documents can guarantee a pet’s secure future." Far too often a person passes on, unaware that their treasured pet will be abandoned or discarded because there were no arrangements made.

We have all seen news stories in which people are mocked for taking care of their pets with an estate plan, but the reality is that these useful provisions have become increasingly common in recent years.

The ABA points out that many people believe that a will adequately protects their pet after they are gone, but the reality is that a will distributes property. So your cat will be given to Person A, but that is the extent of the usefulness of a will in this context. Person A will not be required to take care of the cat according to your desires.

For many pet owners, creation of a pet trust makes more sense than a provision in a will. These can include not only instructions for the care of your pet if you are incapacitated, but also for care after you are gone.

You can discuss with a Queens estate planning attorney creation of a pet trust that includes arrangements for the care and well-being of your pet. You can also discuss administration of a trust with an experienced probate and trust lawyer.

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