For many people, dogs are more than just best friends. They are a valued member of the family. However, pets, unlike other family members, are legally property. This raises the question whether you can direct that your pets be put to sleep after you pass away.
An Indiana woman named Connie Ley passed away in November. In her will, she made provisions for her pet German shepherd. The first provision was fairly standard. Ley directed that one of her friends should look after the dog. However, Ley also went on to direct that the dog should be put to sleep, cremated and that its ashes should be buried with Ley.
The Washington Post has the full story in an article titled “Indiana woman wants to be laid to rest with her German shepherd. One problem: The dog is still alive.”
In this particular case, the dog is currently in a shelter waiting for a court to determine whether Ley’s wishes will be followed.
This is not the first time that the issue has come up. In some other cases courts have decided to put pets down as directed in the wills of the owners. The reason for this is that as much as we often think of our pets as part of the family, the law treats them as personal property.
Animal cruelty laws aside, we are free to do with our pets as we please, including directing what should happen to them after we pass away.
The lesson here? If you want to determine what will happen to your pets after you pass away, then you should make that a part of your will. If you do not, then a court will decide what happens.
Consult an experienced estate planning attorney who can explain your range of options.
Reference: Washington Post (December 17, 2014) “Indiana woman wants to be laid to rest with her German shepherd. One problem: The dog is still alive“
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