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Dog Custody?

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  • Dog Custody?

    Do you have plans for your dog(s) in the event of your death? If so, how did you decide and discuss?

    I recently got some news that may mean that I will die well before my dogs. (My retired horse could stay with the barn owner who adores him and I would provide some money) I realized that I have no clear-cut choice for a home for them. The breeder would take them back and rehome if necessary. There are some friends that I think might want them, but I don't really know how to ask without creeping them out.

    Has anybody done this and did you write something out?

  • #2
    You may talk to your attorney about providing for that in your will, like leaving money to whoever you decide will care for them best.

    In our dog club, most know the club members will take some dogs in, or will look for the right homes, if someone dies unexpectedly without provisions for them.

    The few members that passed on without someone already lined up for their dogs, club members themselves could take the dogs in.
    No dog went without a good home after the owner died.

    I have two neighbors that have told me they will take my dog in when I am gone, without my asking, they really like her.
    She is my last dog, so maybe I will outlive her, but who knows.

    I think it is good to make provisions, we never know who will go first.

    I hope you will find out that after all, you may be around long yet.


    • #3
      I absolutely do have something written out and continually updated. I volunteered for ridgeback rescue for years and just didn't want my animals to end up in some kind of animal limbo because I died unexpectedly.

      You can make contact with your breed rescue and tell them what's going on. Plan ahead and an endowment to help take care of your dogs would probably work.

      And yes; do write it out and let people know.

      He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).


      • #4
        Not for myself, no, but I've promised my (87 yr old) Dad that I will take his (13 yr old) Lhasa Apso if he predeceases the dog. DH prays for my Dad's health daily, since Sammy really is a monstrous little creature. But family's family, canine or human, and I'll be damned if any of mine will end up in a shelter.

        If I were you, I'd just ask. That's what Daddy did - he asked me and his GF (she's only in her sixties ), just to make sure Sammy had a back up home.
        I'm not ignoring the rules. I'm interpreting the rules. Tamal, The Great British Baking Show


        • #5
          There is a growing number of businesses that will take care of your pet/s after you die. Some of them are legit. The charge is IIRC about $3,000 for a dog and it guarantees your dog will find a suitable new home.

          Personally, if I die before my SO, he will take care of them. If he predeceases me, I will make a provision in my will leaving $$ to my friend, and to my breed rescue to rehome my dogs. This will be funded by a portion of my life insurance policy.
          ~Kryswyn~ Always look on the bright side of life, de doo, de doo de doo de doo
          Check out my Kryswyn JRTs on Facebook

          "Life is merrier with a terrier!"


          • #6
            I'm listed on a friend's will as her dogs' "godmother" - my term, not hers. Should anything happen to her, her dogs (3) would become mine. They have forever homes with me, because I've known and loved these guys as long as she's had them!

            Same thing, without the paperwork, goes for my parents' (2) dogs.

            A friend who was a breeder recently passed away - she had 4 or 5 dogs left, and before she went into hospice, she asked dog friends (many of whom had dogs that were related to her remaining ones) if they'd be willing to take on hers. They all found homes in very short order, by "networking".

            I think if you're comfortable having the conversation with the breeder, that would be one of the first people I'd talk to - it would create a "safety net" so that you could bring it up with the friends who might be willing, so that they don't feel pressured into saying yes.


            • #7
              Whatever y'all do - do NOT name specific animals or livestock in your estate plan.

              Speak with your attorney about using phrases like, "Any dog I may own at the time of my death", any cat I may own, any equine I may own...."

              Or if you wish to dispose of all your animals in the same way - any animal I may own...

              If you have specific instructions for specific animals - and those animals die before you - the disposition/gift will lapse.

              And do not punish your friends and family by leaving them the beneficiary of your 401(k). First - the tax consequences are horrendous. Second - naming someone the beneficiary of an insurance policy, a bank account or other type of account, if they care for your animals - does not create any duty on the part of the beneficiary - and that asset passes outside the estate and the personal representative cannot enforce any instructions you may have left. Your "friend" could take the money and not even pick up your dog or horse - and walk away. And no one could do anything about it.

              Before naming beneficiaries of retirement or bank accounts, or insurance policies..... consult an attorney who specializes in estate planning - and/or find one with experience in animal law as well as estate planning.

              Otherwise you could be leaving quite a mess behind - and trust me - the LAST thing squabbling family members are going to care about is your animals.
              Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
              Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
              -Rudyard Kipling


              • #8
                If something happens to me, my dog would go to one of several friends who all want him. My husband loves him, but doesn't want to deal with his upkeep (poodle). My horse would also go to one of a couple different friends. My husband rides, but doesn't particularly like my horse.

                My friends (all of us have some combination of dogs, cats and horses and other assorted pets too) all have a pact of sorts that all of the animals will be taken care of. The harder to place ones would be kept by one of us and the others might be found a suitable home. Most of the spouses are just kind of tolerant of the various animals. They like them, but don't necessarily want to be responsible full time for them.

                If something happens to my husband, I'd likely give his current horse back to his dad. I don't particularly like the horse and his dad bought him initially. I don't have any real desire to run flags or barrels by myself and that's about all he's happy doing. He'd likely become my sister in law's mount since that's what he was originally bought for. My husband will be getting another horse this winter and I'm not sure yet what I would do with that one. He doesn't really get attached to his horses and would have no problem with any of them being sold.


                • #9
                  I do not have anything in writing. At a family crabfeast last month, I caught the tail of a conversation between my two sisters. They were fighting over who would get my old man Joey if I died.

                  Are they trying to off me to get Mr. Wonderful? I don't know how this conversation came up, but I have asked my younger sister to take Joey if I die. I guess I never informed my older sister of this, not realizing she liked my old man so much .

                  My Papillon would return to his breeder: we have a contract.


                  • #10
                    Well, I haven't, though given if I die intestate my parents get it all anyway right now (and if they predecease me my brother gets everything.) Horse would either go to my parents, or in ANY event where I can't keep Lucky the other boarder already told me she and her sister would always be glad to give him a home (everyone loves Lucky. Seriously. It's almost funny. Farrier, masseuse, BO, other boards, friends, all think he's awesome.)

                    I'd actually worry most about the cats. Probably I should draft something saying if my parents can't/won't take them, my friend Laurie will (she probably wouldn't keep them all but I'd trust her to rehome them.)
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                    • #11
                      I'm lucky to come from a family full of animal lovers and we have discussed that if anybody passes away and leaves pets behind that they will be given a happy home within the family. But I know a lot of folks aren't in similar positions.

                      I agree with those who say you should consult with an attorney who specializes in estate planning. It's been a few years since I did anything in the trusts & estates area of the law, but there are some specific issues with enforcing last wishes when it comes to animals.

                      If I didn't have family members I trusted, I think I'd be examining my friends, etc and picking the person I trusted the most, who treated their own animals the best, and then I'd talk with them. And then yes, make sure your will reflects your decision.

                      OP-I hope sincerely that it turns out you won't have to worry about this after all.


                      • #12
                        First off, I am wanting to give you a big hug. How brave you are.

                        Since the news you received is giving you concern, then I would talk to my friends and ask them. Just be straight, they will be finding out eventually.

                        I created a trust, and so the trust owns the animals. I have to fund it(transferred assets into my revocable trust).

                        I did that to avoid giving my animals and money to someone, who could do as they please..take the money and send the dogs to the pound.

                        So, my trust owns the animals, and it will be up to my trustees(brother and a friend) to determine where they go.
                        Its not the greatest, but it is what it is.

                        Again, big hugs to you. Please keep in touch with us, in case we can help in any way.
                        save lives...spay/neuter/geld


                        • #13
                          I think a trust for your animals, for most people, is really not necessary and may complicate the disposition of the estate.

                          If someone is going to trust some with a trust, they may as well just designate the money go directly to those that have agreed to care for their animals.
                          If circumstances change, that can be easily changed.

                          For what I have heard, trust make sense when large amounts of assets are to be managed, like for small kids, the disabled or elderly.
                          Not really the right instrument for a small amount for a dog/s, but always consult with a good attorney for legal questions.


                          • #14
                            We are re-doing our will and our dog is to go with my daughter. I can't imagine the thought of her losing both her parents and her best buddy. Our relatives know this is the plan.