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Cats Don’t Want To Inherit Money, But They Do Want Someone To Clean Their Litter Box After You Are Gone


The old adage goes that a sloppy estate plan is better than none at all.  Despite this, if you write your will without consulting a lawyer, the probate court will follow the instructions in your will to the letter, even if doing this has unintended consequences.  For example, if you wrote your will before your youngest child was born, and you specified that your estate was to be divided evenly between your daughters Alice and Beatrice, their youngest sister Clarice will inherit nothing.  Estate law gives you wide-ranging freedom to leave your property to anyone you choose, including family members, friends, and charitable organizations.  Many prudent seniors include provisions in their will that designate funds for the care of their pets after the testator dies; these provisions are legally valid.  Tabloid headlines tend to say things like “dachshund inherits multimillion dollar estate from eccentric heiress,” but even the most naïve people know that animals cannot inherit money.  The more specific you are about how you want the personal representative of your estate to use the estate’s funds to provide care for your four-legged friends, the better.  To ensure that your estate plan provides the stability for your pets that you want it to provide, contact an Orlando estate planning lawyer.

Pampered Felines Left to Their Own Devices in Palatial Florida House

When Nancy Sauer of Tampa died in November 2023, she had given serious thought to how to provide for her seven Persian cats after she was gone.  Sauer determined that it was in the cats’ best interest to continue living together in her home, where they had lived since they were kittens.  She designated a certain amount of money for the care of each cat, enough to last for the rest of its life, based on the expected lifespan of cars.  Her will also said that her estate was not allowed to sell her house until after the last cat died.

Sometime later, a probate judge ordered the cats to be placed in new homes.  A representative for the Humane Society said that even though someone visited the house multiple times per day to make sure that the cats were safe, it was not healthy for seven cats to live together permanently in a house with no humans.  It is unclear what provisions Sauer’s will included about who should feed the cats and change their litter and how often the person should do it.  The best way to address this issue is to provide for a salary for your pets’ caretaker, and for it to be enough money for the caretaker to spend full-time working hours caring for the pets, or else to grant the caretaker the right to reside in your house for as long as the animals are alive.

Contact Gierach and Gierach About Providing for Your Pets in Your Estate Plan

An estate planning lawyer can help you phrase the provisions of your will about your pets’ care in a legally enforceable way.  Contact Gierach and Gierach, P.A. in Orlando, Florida to discuss your case.



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