Interview! Frances Carlisle, Attorney

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“An important and usually neglected part of estate planning is what will happen to a client’s pets and animals. Charities which are already overburdened than have to step in, taking resources away from their other needs.”


Frances Carlisle is an attorney in New York that prepares wills and trusts, along with trusts for animals. She was one of the original members of the New York City Bar Animal Law Committee and has appeared on Animal Planet to discuss the importance of estate planning for continuing care of animals, as well!

Because animals can’t be a beneficiary, but there are two different ways to provide for continuing care after something happens to a pet owner:

  1. Leave an outright bequest for a fund to take care of the animal – This may be where a family member would take on the burden. A pet owner could set up a fun for the person to help defray the cost of care for the animal. Frances also suggests having 2 or 3 names to make sure that if your #1 choice suddenly can’t take the animal, there is a back-up.
  2. Creation of a trust for an animal – This offers more protections for the animal. This would name your animal as a beneficiary through a trustee, who will ultimately be in charge of overseeing everything for the duration of the pet’s life.

While working with an attorney may be too expensive for some, there is a new mypetwill.com website, where you can create these items relatively cheap.

Frances also discusses the option that pet owners may want to consider looking into sanctuaries for pets that are long-living and may outlast a pet owner’s lifespan, such as horses or other larger animals. A sanctuary or stable would be a great option to find something that is likely to be around for the lifetime of the animal.

It’s also important to think about what a pet owner would do for an extended hospitalization or was suddenly incapacitated. It’s necessary to work on an arrangement where someone can immediately feed and care for an animal. A power of attorney may be needed, in these cases. She also recommends carrying a card in your wallet that gives directions on what to do in case of emergency with pets that may be at home. In the case of community cats, a caretaker may want to make sure they give detailed locations and descriptions of where they feed and take care of a colony.

Finally, Frances discusses how to consider what to do with your pet when they die. It’s important to make sure they are properly taken care of not only in life, but in death!



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