I love dogs as do most of my friends. My assistant has two dogs – Lucy and Ethel -that she rescued from the animal shelter. They are part terrier and part something else but they are hilarious to watch as they do everything in tandem. My wife and I have a Border Terrier – Izzy - a little known breed unless you loved the dog in the movie "Something About Mary." She is really smart and has taught me to do so many things. We have owned a number of dogs and cats over the years and have been devastated as each one completed their life cycle. We have all seen movies in which a dog mourned the loss of its master but we are often left to wonder who took care of the family pet. Mine is easy; my sister is a full time dog lover and my boys would rise to the occasion for our low-maintenance Izzy.
Some pets are more than pets, such as my sister’s Grand Champion Leonberger who attends dog shows as often as three times per month, including the big daddy at Westminster. I really enjoy that 150 pound behemoth for short visits, except when it took me three hours to get his hair out of my swimming pool. He visits hospitals as a therapy dog, competes in obedience training and obstacle courses and has as many degrees and certifications as I do. He flies First Class and gets into any restaurant that he wants because he is also my sister’s service dog.
Needless to say, Patton is a superstar and soon to be a super stud. However, I have told my sister that if Patton outlives her, I am not a good candidate for his continued care and competition. I like low maintenance dogs, not those that have regular water treadmill, acupuncture, and grooming appointments.
For clients who have a pet such as Patton or who do not have a family member who would automatically assume responsibility, a Pet Trust is a common solution. The Texas Property Code Section 112.037 authorizes a “Trust for Care of Animal” that can be set up as a separate trust or that arises if needed under a person’s Will or Living Trust. I recently had a client break out in tears in an initial meeting as she suddenly realized, “Who will take care of my dogs?” The trust is also designed for larger animals who are maintained out of the home, such as a horse.
With just a little planning, a Pet Trust will provide peace of mind for the entire family and a great life for your beloved pet.
© Will Morris, JD, LLM 2014