Tag Archives: wills

Spending eternity together

In 1991, when my beloved Husky/Lab cross Porky passed away at the age of 14, we decided the best tribute to him was a burial in the Pine Ridge Pet Cemetery.  Whenever I visit the area, I stop to give him flowers.

Porky's grave

And for the dogs I have had since then, I have made plans in my will which say that their ashes should be cremated with me.  I often talk with my clients about making their plans for when they and their dogs pass away.

Now I hear that the State of Massachusetts is debating House Bill 3272, which would allow the state’s 5,000 municipal, private and religious cemeteries to designate land for the “co-internment … of the bodies of humans and their pets.”

It’s not a law yet – but it’s a start of a welcomed, larger debate.  There will be sensitivities around the internment of animals alongside people already buried in regulated cemeteries, with some having objections on religious grounds.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

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7 Steps to a Happier Pet

This holiday season, the Humane Society of the United States would like to share its 7 steps to a happier pet:

  1. Make sure your pet wears an identification tag
  2. Make sure you enroll your new puppy in behavioural training classes to prevent problems
  3. Animal behavioural problems can be health-related.  Make sure your pet has a complete medical exam by a veterinarian at least once a year
  4. Prepare for disasters and make sure you have a plan for your pet in the event of a hurricane, tornado, fire, flood or earthquake
  5. Plan for your pet’s future in case something happens to you
  6. Learn how to prevent dog bites and how to prevent your dog from biting; visit the Humane Society’s website.
  7. Have a heart, be smart, and make sure your pet is spayed or neutered.

This is my last will and testament…

If you love your dog, you should consider what would happen if you died.  Who would care for them?  One way of dealing with this issue is to have a pet trust.

To establish a pet trust you need to:

  • Nominate a trustee
  • Designate a caregiver (it would be best to consult this person in advance and make sure they are happy with the responsibility)
  • Set aside a nominated amount of funding for the trust
  • Clearly state what standard of care your dog should receive
  • Establish the trust’s duration (a certain length of time, likely to cover the rest of your dog’s natural life)
  • Designate a beneficiary who will receive any remaining funds once your dog passes
  • Name your dog(s) to be covered by the trust

Here are some more notable bequests to dogs:

Leona Helmsley (The Queen of Mean) set up a pet trust for her Maltese, Trouble.  It was a whopping $12 million.  After the will was contested, the dog’s trust was reduced by $10 million.

Leona Helmsley with her dog, Trouble

Leona Helmsley with her dog, Trouble

In 2010, socialite Gail Posner left a home and a $3 million trust fund to her three dogs.   These dogs were very pampered and were said to have been given weekly spa appointments, traveling to those appointments in a gold Cadillac. Conchita, a Chihuahua, April Maria, a Maltese, and Lucia, a Yorkshire Terrier were the beneficiaries.

Before both of these ladies made their bequests, there was German Countess Carlotta Liebenstein.  She left approximately £43 million to her pet dog Gunther III when she died in 1991.  Gunther III and his son, Gunther IV,  enjoyed the services of a personal maid, chauffeur and a pool.

In 2004, after 10 years of contention, the bank that served as executor for tobacco heiress Doris Duke’s estate agreed to compensate the caretakers of her dogs.  Although Duke had made provision for them in her will, the will was contested for a number of reasons.  The settlement involved over $100,000 to pay two of Duke’s former servants who were responsible for feeding, medicating and cleaning up after the dogs.  Two of the dogs died over the 10 years of fighting.  Only Robert, an old shepherd cross remained.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

Providing for your dog in your will

News has broken this week that Trouble, the Maltese previously owned by Leona Helmsley (‘The Queen of Mean’), died in December.  Helmsley left a US$12 million trust fund when she died in 2007 for the care of Trouble.  This amount was later reduced to US$2 million when relatives challenged the will.

If you are thinking about providing for your dog in your will – there is a right way and wrong way to do it.

Right way:  Check into the regulations in your area about establishing trust funds for the benefit of your pet’s care and open the trust fund now, making regular contributions.   Make sure you nominate someone to care for your dog after you have died, using the funds in the trust.

If pet trusts are not allowed in your area, you need to nominate a carer for your dog and then leave them money to support your dog’s care.

Wrong way:  Don’t leave money to your dog in your will.  Whether we like it or not, dogs are considered property and this status means that they cannot inherit money.  The money you leave to your dog will likely be re-distributed to other beneficiaries.

Here’s a good (and brief) article about providing for your dog in your will.

Kathleen Crisley, Fear-Free certified professional and specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand