I planned for terrible; it gets worse. Estate planning for pets gone wrong.
You’ve seen the last post. You’ve been moved to action and created a well thought out plan for your pets. Then you hear a story like this…
Taken from a story shared by Alexandra:
Back in 2008 a friend of mine, “Ann” heard through one of her friends, “John” about a woman, “Frieda” who was dying of cancer in Oakland. This woman was well-off; she owned a house in Oakland and some land in Bolinas. She had two 10 year old cats, one of whom had just had to have an eye removed due to malignant melanoma. While she herself was dying, she paid thousands of dollars for her cat’s surgery.
In her will, written in 2003, she left her cats to a close friend of many decades, and said that if that friend was not able to take them, she left them to yet another friend. She also left a bequest of $1,000 to whoever took the cats. She had discussed this with both friends before naming them in her will.
When Frieda died, John became her executor. He contacted both friends named in the will and even though they had promised Frieda to take the cats, they refused with some lame-ass excuses that basically boiled down to, they didn’t feel like it. He mentioned this to my friend Ann who agreed to foster the cats (she lives in San Francisco).
Frieda’s son “Evan” also lived in Oakland and went over to feed the cats for about a week but got impatient because he wanted to sell his mother’s house. So, 10 days after his mother died, he took her 10 year old one-eyed cat and his sister to the Oakland pound – a kill shelter – surrendered them, and called Ann from the parking lot to say if she wanted to foster them, she could come and get them. Which would be about a 40 mile drive round trip for her. His reason? It was his day off and so it was convenient for him to get rid of them that day.
Ann told him in no uncertain terms to go back in and get the cats and bring them to her. Which, thankfully, he did. To this day, they live with Ann. Who didn’t even know Frieda! She has spent thousands on their medical care and has not received even the $1,000 bequest that Frieda left in her will.
The son, Evan sounds horrible from reading this. How could he be so selfish after all the effort his mother had put towards caring for her cats? He is self-employed in a business that is all about caring and nurturing. To visit his mother’s memorial blog or his own business’s web site, you would never know that he was capable of such callous treatment of his mother’s beloved pets.
I only post this story to say, no matter how much of a safety net you think you given your animals who survive you – good luck with that. But having said that, it is really important to plan ahead, even if you are young and expect to outlive your animals, because any one of us could get hit by a truck tomorrow. And, make a backup for your backup!!!
Here are some links to some great programs that can assure the safety of your pets with organizations that aren’t going anywhere and won’t say “no” when the time comes:
- Sido Program, San Francisco SPCA
- Continuing Care Program, Peninsula Humane Society and SPCA
- Loving for Life Program, Sonoma Humane Society
- Friends Forever Program, Oregon Humane Society
- Perpetual Pet Care Program, Kansas State
- Stevenson Companion Animal Life-Care Center, Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine
- Continuing Care, Arizona Humane Society
Always do your own research and due diligence before signing any contracts or gifting any money to an organization. If searching for more information, consider the term “perpetual care”