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Ask Apollo


Estate Planning for Pets

Ask Apollo

We love our pets in the Lowcountry. According to Charleston County Animal Control, there are 2 pets (dogs and cats) for every person in the tri-county area...that’s a lot of dogs!

What happens to your beloved pet in the event something happens to you? Luckily, Christensen & All, P.A. has the area’s foremost authority on pet law, Apollo Christensen. Apollo is a Bichon Frisé with a nose for pet issues (cats too) and is a real problem solver.

If you have a pet-related legal question, submit it to Apollo using the submission form or call them at 843-971-1199. A human will respond and you can schedule an appointment for you and your owner to ensure that you’re protected.

Recently submitted questions

Taz asked:

Hi Apollo, my name is Taz and I'm a 28-year old Jack Russell Terrier (4 years old in human years). My owner hasn’t been feeding me regularly and I don’t think she’s taking very good care of herself either. I’d feed us both, but I can’t reach the kibble. What can we do to make sure we’re both taken care of?

Apollo says:

Well Taz, it seems that a possible solution would be to set up a guardianship / conservatorship (G & C) for your owner. This approved guardian can then make sure that the owner and you are taken care of. Note that a G & C cannot be established for a pet directly.

Disclaimer: Apollo is a very smart dog and he hangs around the office all day reading legal texts, but he's still a dog. You shouldn't use him as a legal adviser and should seek human legal counsel to address your pet-related issues and questions.

Summer asked:

Dear Apollo, my name is Summer, a white Labrador Retriever. Can I be adequately protected by being mentioned in a Will?

Apollo says:

No. The pitfalls of trying to take care of a pet through a Will include the following:

  1. Instructions about how to take care of a pet in a Will are unenforceable. A Will can give a cat to a named person but cannot require the person to care for the pet.
  2. Wills are not effective immediately. It can take months before the provisions of a Will can be carried out while the probate process proceeds.
  3. Wills have no legal affect during the owner's lifetime. If the owner becomes incapacitated, the provisions of the Will regarding the care of the pet are of no legal affect. As a result, there is nothing which addresses how the pet is to be cared for or even who will care for the pet.
  4. A will does not permit disbursement of funds to take care of the pet over time. Unless a “pet trust” is established in the Will, the Will can only provide for a lump sum disbursement.

Disclaimer: Apollo is a very smart dog and he hangs around the office all day reading legal texts, but he's still a dog. You shouldn't use him as a legal adviser and should seek human legal counsel to address your pet-related issues and questions.

Zoe asked:

Hi Apollo, I’m Zoe, a Husky Retriever mix. I’ve heard of something called a “Pet Trust”. Can this protect me if something happens to my owner?

Apollo says:

Yes. A “Pet Trust” is a trust created by the owner which can provide:

  1. Who will be responsible for caring for the pet if you become incapacitated.
  2. Who will take care of the pet at your death.
  3. How much money you want to make available to the guardian for the pet and how you want the funds disbursed.
  4. What will happen if the person who initially was named to take care of the pet dies before the pet.
  5. Instructions as to how you would like the pet to be cared for.
  6. If there is more than one pet, do you want them to be kept together.
  7. Who will receive any funds left in the trust at the pet's death.

Disclaimer: Apollo is a very smart dog and he hangs around the office all day reading legal texts, but he's still a dog. You shouldn't use him as a legal adviser and should seek human legal counsel to address your pet-related issues and questions.

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