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Of Grief and Grieving for a Pet

As an estate planning attorney I am often in touch with clients at difficult times in their lives. I have written previous articles about grief and grieving; about pets and about providing for pets in an estate plan.*

These thoughts intersected for me when someone sent me a link to the website

The website offers a compassionate rendering of quotations, memorials and poems about dogs – The memories that pet owners (or pet parents if you prefer) want to share about the ‘furry friends’.

If you have recently lost your ‘best friend’- a visit to the website may help with the grief.

* Note that Colorado enables people to provide for their pets/companion animals through the provision of the Colorado Probate Code. For more information about the code you can access- Colorado Probate Code CRS 15-11-901 Part 9 Honorary Trusts, Trusts for Pets.

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Pets, Probate and Pre Nups

Here is a previous post about Pets and planning for the future.

In most states, money and other assets cannot legally be left to “non humans” in a will. This, of course, is a simplified version of the law, concerning Pet Trusts and pet trust law. I decided to write this brief article after reading about Lauren Bacall. Sadly, the great actress died recently and she left behind her cherished dog, Sophie. Ms. Bacall left funds so that Sophie could be cared for.

Concern for the care of pets when the owner dies is a topic that has become more prevalent in the past decade. According to the HSUS (Humane Society of the United States) there are about 179 million cats and dogs living in family households. Pet trusts are entering the estate planning landscape and I foresee that they will become an increasingly larger part of Estate Planning. One reason for this is that companion animals have become an integral part of family life, and as such, their owners/carers/pet parents want to provide for them.

Here in Colorado, there is Colorado Revised Statute Law 15-11-901 (1994 amended 1995) under Title 15. Probate, Trusts, and Fiduciaries. Within that Colorado statute is “Honorary Trusts; Trust for Pets”

An article by Kim Bressant-Kibwe, Esq. on the ASPCA (Association for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) website titled “Pet Trust Primer” gives a very good synopsis of Pet Trusts.

Pet Trust Law statutes vary from state to state and there are still a few states that do not allow the establishment of pet trusts.

There are often funding limits as well as term limits placed upon the pet trust.  To give an example – the trust may exist until the death of the animal beneficiary or for a maximum of 21 years.

Another point to keep in mind is that in Colorado, all trusts having its principle place of administration in Colorado shall, within 30 days following trustee acceptance of trust, shall register the trust in the Court of Colorado, this includes trusts established for pet.

Another issue surrounding pets is the growing number of pre-nuptial/marital agreements/contracts that include terms for “who gets to keep the pet(s)” if the marriage dissolves. These co-called “pre-pups” help to avoid costly litigation between the two parties and often they even outline the visiting arrangements for the pet(s).

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This post has been brought to you through the Law Office of Barbara Ann Dalvano. This information is provided for educational purposes only and to generate ideas, provoke thought and facilitate conversation. It is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship. Each person’s situation is different and this information should not and cannot be relied upon as legal, tax, accounting or investment advice. Please read the entire disclaimer for more important information.


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Pets and Estate Planning

I have written previous articles about how pets should be included in your Estate Plan. There are often very specific issues surrounding larger (or long- lived animals like parrots and tortoises) ‘pets’- in this case horses.

I was pleased to get a very good article dropped into my email inbox.  It deals specifically with horses.  The title of the article is Estate Planning Tips for Horse Owners by Erica Larson (July 12, 2016) and the title says it all.

You can read the entire article at

No matter what furry or feathered friend you have, you want to take care of their future well-being. Have I ever included pets in my clients’ estate planning? The short answer is YES!

Also, …Consider what would happen if you were incapacitated for a long period of time.

Take action to include your pets in your estate planning.

Working to Preserve Your Wealth and Protect Your Future…in a Constantly Changing World

Please read my full Disclaimer and How I Can Help You

Visit my website: for more articles and informative infographics