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By Liza Horvath


Make a Plan for Your Pets


My husband left the room briefly the other evening and when he came back in my Chihuahua, Paco, jumped to his feet and barked at him. Seems that Paco “forgot” who Skip was in the few minutes he was out of the room. Paco is our “special needs” dog and when we were recently faced with the dilemma of parting with one of our male dogs – due to an unchanging problem with territory marking - we parted with Simon, our absolutely lovable terrier, because Paco is neurotic and presumably no one understands him but me. Even so – or maybe because of his challenges – we worry what will happen to him if something should happen to us.


According to attorney Gerry Beyer, 75 percent of dog owners view their animals as family members and more than 50 percent of cat owners feel the same. When 1,019 pet owners were surveyed, 57 percent said they would want a pet as their only companion if they were stranded on a deserted island. While I do not consider my dog in the same in rank as my children, I do believe it is the responsibility of pet owners to make suitable arrangements for their pets should their pet outlive them.


Leona Helmsley’s trust made headlines in 2007 when she left $12 million for her dog, Trouble. The amount was later reduced to $2 million by a judge but, nevertheless, Trouble lived a life of luxury until his death in 2011. A lesser known will, that of singer Dusty Springfield, made detailed provisions for her cat, Nicholas, which included that his bed be lined with Dusty ’s nightgown, her music played for him each night at bedtime and that he be fed only a certain kind of imported baby food.


California officially adopted pet trust laws in 2008 and my column that covered the topic was aptly called, “Pet Trust Law Gets Teeth.” Ok, sorry - but prior to the laws being put into place we could not set up a trust for an animal’s care and now almost every state in the U.S. recognizes pet trusts. 


If a pet trust is not the right vehicle for you, at least consider what would happen to your pet if you die first. The SPCA of Monterey County has a Guardian Angel Program that can help you plan for the care of your pet should you die or become incapacitated. More information on the program can be found at www.spcamc.org or by calling them at 373-2631. Animal Friends Rescue Project, www.animalfriendsrescue.org or 333-0722, and Peace of Mind Dog Rescue, www.peaceofminddogrescue.org or 718-9122, are both “no-kill,” non-profit groups offering services to pets who become homeless due to death or incapacity of their owners. Both of these organizations also need volunteers who can foster pets while new homes are found so, if you want a short-term relationship with a nice dog or kitty, contact them. You will be glad you did.

Liza Horvath has over 30 years experience in the estate planning and trust fields and is the president of Monterey Trust Management, a financial and trust management company. This is not intended to be legal or tax advice. If you have a questions call (831)646-5262 or email liza@montereytrust.com










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