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PandEcats

The Premier Online Magazine
devoted to Persian & Exotic Shorthair Cats

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Close this search box.

PandEcats

The Premier Online Magazine devoted
to Persian & Exotic Shorthair Cats

Search
Close this search box.

Your Will & Your Cat: The Generalities

The end of your life is something you probably don’t want to think about. Most of us don’t. But it is important for every adult to consider what will happen to their assets and personal possessions after they are gone. The cat breeder has the added challenge of making preparations for the care and possible dispersal of their cats upon their death.

Whether you own a single cat or you are very involved in the cat fancy and maintain a large breeding program, it is irresponsible not to make provisions for your cats in the event of your untimely death or incapacitation. In this article , we will discuss the generalities of why and how you set up a will that cares for your cats upon your passing.

The Single Pet Cat Owner

For the single cat owner, it is often easy to decide what happens to the kitty after your death. You simply ask a friend or relative if they would take care of Fluffy if anything happens to you. A small codicil added to your existing will informing the family of your wishes is all that is necessary. You may also want to make a bequest to cover care of the cat, especially if it has a medical condition requiring expensive treatment or medications.

The Cat Breeder

The task facing the active cat breeder with studs and queens and an ever-changing group of kittens is much more complicated. Although deciding what should be done with each individual cat in the event of your death is not an easy task, it is a something that should be faced and completed in order to ensure that the cats are taken care of after your passing. You will also want to preserve the bloodlines and accomplishments of your years of breeding.

Unless you make provision for your cats they may wind up in the pound or even worse, be put down.

How do you make sure your cats will be taken care of upon your death? You need a document which details exactly want you want to be done with them.

There are several documents that can be prepared to legalize your wishes. They include:

  • A Will
  • A Codicil
  • A Revocable Living Trust
  • A Living Will
  • Durable Power of Attorney

Let’s look at these options more closely…

A Will

A will is a legal document that takes effect upon your death. The provisions of your will may call for an outright distribution to your beneficiaries or the establishment of a trust for the benefit of your beneficiaries. Unless you make a specific provision in your will for your cats, their care and ownership will be dealt with according to the provisions governing tangible personal property in the place where you reside.

Although wills are simple to create, about half of all Americans die without one (intestate). Without a will to indicate your wishes, the court steps in and distributes your property according to the laws of your state.

A Codicil

You may not wish to include your cats in your basic will because the individual cats vary over time. Your circumstances, partnerships, and friendships may change. Even the arrangements you make for your cats may need to change.

If the details for the care of your cats are made part of your regular will, you would need to write a completely new will with each change. Instead, detail what happens to your cats in a codicil to the will. A codicil is a separate document that is “added” to your will. When changes are needed, they made simply to the codicil.

A Revocable Living Trust

In general, a “trust” is a legal arrangement whereby a “trustee” administers the trust property for the benefit of one or more designated “beneficiaries” according to the terms of the trust agreement.

A “revocable living trust” is a particular type of trust whereby, during the lifetime of a person, they are the trustee of their own trust and may revoke the terms of the trust agreement; but when they die, a successor trustee named in the trust agreement takes over the trust property and distributes it according to the estate planning provisions. 

As with a will, the trustee could be directed to establish a trust for the benefit of a caretaker or the cats. If you are willing to spend the time and expense of preparing the trust agreement and transferring assets to the revocable living trust during your lifetime, this avoids the hassles and costs associated with probating a will and judicial intervention in the estate administration process.

Leave your “cat will” with your lawyer. Be sure your family and friends know there is a will prepared specifically addressing the placement of your cats.

A Living Will

A living will is not a part of your regular will. A Living Will is a separate document that lets your family know what type of care you do or don’t want to receive should you become terminally ill or permanently unconscious. It comes into effect only when you cannot express your wishes yourself.

What happens to the cats then? A living will can designate who will take care of your cats and makes sure they are cared for if you are not in a position to do it yourself. Consult your lawyer regarding a living will when you make your main will and codicil.

Durable Power of Attorney 

The term “durable power of attorney” does not include documents appointing medical or health care agents or other directives (such as living wills). A durable power of attorney authorizes an “agent” or “attorney-in-fact” to act on behalf of a “principal” with regard to the principal’s property and financial affairs. 

The term “durable” simply means that the agent’s powers continue even if the person becomes incapacitated. 

In terms of estate planning for your cats, the agent is given the authority and directions for dealing with your cats and dispensing your funds to make sure that they are provided for. You should consult an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction before executing a durable power of attorney.

Make It Legal

Once you have made your basic decisions about your cats, you need to set everything up legally. All documents should be prepared by a lawyer or a notary so they are legally correct.

Witnesses

You are usually required to sign your will, codicil, etc. in front of witnesses. A witness should not be a beneficiary under the will. Only one copy of your will should be signed.

Where To Keep Your Will

Once your will is written, store it in a safe place that is accessible to others after your death. 

  • If you name a trust company as executor, it will hold your will in safekeeping.
  • You can keep your will in your safe deposit box, but be aware that some states will seal your safe deposit box upon your death, so this may not always be the safest place to store your will.
  • If you had an attorney prepare your will, have him or her retain a copy with a note stating where the original can be found.

Inform Your Next of Kin

Tell your family or next of kin where to find your will. If the person in charge of the dispersal of your cats is not your next of kin, be sure to inform your family of your wishes to avoid any confusion or resentments. If you fail to do this, the family may insist on their legal right to make all the decisions, even though they know nothing about the cats.

In Conclusion

As much as you may prefer not to think about it, death comes to all of us sooner or later. The time to plan for the care of your cats after you are gone is now—while you are in good health both physically and mentally and have the energy and ability to attend to the legalities and decisions involved.

If you really care about your cats, it is the right thing to do.

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“My relationships with my cats has saved me from a deadly, pervasive ignorance.”
*William S. Burroughs (Author, The Naked Lunch)

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