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Pets Should Also Be a Part of Estate Planning

2020 was a year like no other for many of us. Who would have expected the pandemic, homeschooling and a global shutdown?! Even though we practiced social distancing, one common factor stands out amongst our clients – an influx of pet adoption.

If you know me, you understand my love of all animals. If I could help in the rescue of every misplaced, abused and lonely pet, I would. Which is why I am an advocate of rescuing and a staunch supporter of Bridge to Home Animal Rescue – a local animal rescue located in Eighty-Four, Pennsylvania. BTHAR is a non-profit 501(c)(3) dedicated to helping homeless, unwanted and discarded dogs. Their goal, as stated on their website, bridgetohome84.org, is to help dogs find their forever home. Without a facility, their dogs are kept in volunteer foster family’s homes until the perfect home is found.

A recent Facebook post President, Tracey Crompton, posted caught my attention. The photo was of an elderly Schnauzer with an all-to-familiar story about owners who had recently passed away, and their children dumping her at a kill shelter in Ohio. She wasn’t sick. She wasn’t ill-tempered. She was simply a burden that her owner’s family no longer wanted to be bothered with.

I look at animals similarly as to how I view my clients and their common concerns with growing older – we are all cute and cuddly in infancy, then we grow and exhibit our rebellious teenage years, we age and mature only to slow down in time to enjoy our golden years. But commonly our golden years are fraught with concern about whether we have become a burden to our families, will our loved ones still visit and call since often times we forget the story we told them last time we spoke. Will they still love us if we have an accident and make a mess of things?

I listen to clients whose story isn’t too dissimilar from the last: will my kids and grandkids, nieces and nephews who were once so close and familiar, throw them away simply for aging and slowing down, or in Mabel’s case, that cute puppy her owner’s fell in love with only to be forgotten upon their death?

Fortunately for Mabel, she was saved from death. Let’s face it – there is no protection from euthanasia for older dogs like Mabel once they are deserted. A few months without interest, sometimes a few days, and the older shelter dog becomes another heartbreaking statistic of pets who’ve outlived their cuddliness.

As Tracey posted not so long ago “Dogs die in kill shelters. Nice dogs. Young dogs. And even pure breed dogs. The dogs I foster come into my life and I put everything into finding them the best home. Not just for today but for ten years down the road until they die…If you are old and want a puppy please reconsider it unless you have a plan. Check out an age-appropriate dog for you.”

At the very least, have a plan and make sure it’s one that we can ensure will be executed. Don’t assume your children won’t take your pet to a shelter. I bet this thought never crossed Mabel’s folks’ minds.

What can be done? A simple estate plan with thoughtful provisions and parameters which are legally enforceable.

If there’s anything I’ve learned as a lawyer, it’s that your loved ones often surprise you in death. The ones I heard would always do the right thing and is a good kid have often times acted in ways that would surprise and disappoint a parent’s expectations.

If you adore your pet and want to make sure that it is taken care of when you are no longer here or unable to provide the proper care, we can help you draw up a plan to guarantee that your pet isn’t deserted and continues to receive the love that we all deserve.


Bridge to Home Animal Rescue