I love my dogs. There have been dogs in my family since the day I was born. And most of the time we have had two or three dogs. They are, and always will be, a part of my family. However, most states, including New Mexico and Arizona, consider pets as property. It is an important distinction in terms of rights and how a pet is treated if you are not around – you get to do with your pet what you want, and if you didn’t make provisions, then the State decides what happens.
So planning for your beloved pet is important. Deciding who will take care of your pet if you are unable ensures that your pet will be able to enjoy the rest of their lives. In addition, whether you think your dog will grieve for your loss or not, they will have to adapt to their “new normal,” and that is hard for all of us. The better your plan, the better your pet will be prepared.
But this planning can go a bit too far. An Indiana woman made provisions for her dog in her Will. However, her wish was that when she died, her dog was to be euthanized and their ashes are to be mixed. All accounts indicate the dog is healthy, and otherwise would not need to be put down.
The good is that the woman made provisions for her pet in her estate plan. The bad is that the woman decided to treat her pet as she would any other piece of property, rather than a living animal. I hope that there was a misunderstanding in the drafting of the Will.
The wish to spend eternity with her pet is not out of the ordinary, but it is important to make sure your plan states that this will happen upon the natural death of the animal. But until then, your furry friend will be able to spend the rest of its days with family or friend that you have predetermined would be the best fit.
For all of you like me, true animal lovers, make sure your pets are provided for in the best way possible. Make your appointment today and discuss with one of our attorneys the best way to provide for your pets.
Contributed by MH Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Las Cruces Estate Planning Attorney, James P. Plitz.
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This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney in your community who can assess the specifics of your situation.