Category Archives: Pet

Grandma’s Yellow Pie Plate

There’s a great book called “Who Gets Grandma’s Yellow Pie Plate” which is put out by the University of Minnesota Extension Service.  It’s a kind of how to guide for dividing personal property when someone passes away.  Often it is things with sentimental value that tear families apart after a death.  Did your family have a special tradition, your mother a favorite Christmas tree ornament, your father a pipe or carving that brings back fond memories?  How items like this are divided upon a person’s death can cement a family in fond memories, or re-ignite old scars and power struggles. 

There are different ways to approach dividing personal property – ask the people who are important to you what things they value.  You might be surprised by what they say.  You can give things away while you’re alive, or make a list of items and recipients.  Often such a list is mentioned in a will; it should be signed and dated.  After a person has died, the family may gather to divide things up; do this with a plan and some thought.  Who should be there, where should the conversations take place, when should this happen? 

And of course, don’t forget to have this conversation about your pets.  We joke in my family that the turtle will be going to the nursing home with me because it’s likely to live longer than I do…I hope it’s only a joke!

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Law meets Life–An occasional blog for North Shore Residents

Pet Round UP: Dogs on the Beach, Dogs in your Will.

The Manchester-by-the-Sea Town Meeting is April 4 and 5, 2011. One warrant item will be whether or not to further restrict dogs on Singing Beach. Did you know that if you vote on the issue that concerns you, and leave the meeting, that the warrant can later be amended and a vote re-taken? If there is a subject of interest to you on the warrant, be ready to stay for the entire meeting.

On another pet related note, Massachusetts just became the latest state to pass PET TRUST LEGISLATION. We now have a statute that allows you to leave a sum of money specifically for the care of your animal when you die. Thank you to Bruce Tarr for co-sponsoring this legislation. More info can be found here:  Pet Trust article

Do you have a great pet sitter, vet, groomer, or pet trainer that you’d like to recommend? Please send along their info, and I’ll do a listing in the next Pet Round UP.

P.S. Manchester residents: Dog licenses need to be obtained from Town Hall by March 31st.

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Will Basics

What exactly is a will, and what does it do? 

A will is a document that disposes of a person’s property after death.  In addition, it names fiduciaries, including an executor, maybe a trustee, and a guardian of your minor children.  A will can spell out specific gifts (I give my engagement ring to my granddaughter Alice); charitable bequests (I leave $500 to the First Parish Church of XYZ); and dispose of whatever is left in the way that you direct.

A will comes into effect at the death of the testator (person making the will).  Prior to death, the testator can change or amend their will at any time, presuming that they remain mentally competent.  A will must be executed EXACTLY according to state law, there is very little wiggle room to accommodate mistakes in execution.

In Massachusetts, once you pass away, your original will must be located and presented to the probate court of the county you live in within 30 days.  This is important for two reasons.  The first being that someone needs to know where you keep your original documents.  A safety deposit box is not a good place for an original will, unless someone else has access to it.  (This means they’re “on” the safety deposit box, a notation in a power of attorney will not work once you have passed away).  The second important point is that time is, as they say, “of the essence”.  While probate can seem like a long process, getting started should happen pretty quickly.  Once your will is filed, it becomes a public document.  Under no circumstances should you put private financial information into this document!  I say this because there are “do it yourself” kits that insert social security numbers into the will, which is obviously an unwise thing to do.

So here is your “to do” list:

— Think about guardians for my children

— Who would I want to be the executor of my estate?

— What charities or special bequests do I want named in my will?

— Have a will drafted by an attorney I trust

— EXECUTE MY DOCUMENTS

— Put them somewhere safe, and tell someone where they are

 

I will write about the other documents in a basic estate plan in later posts.

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Massachusetts Pet Trust Legislation signed into law

On January 7th, Governor Patrick signed legislation allowing funds to be set aside for the care of pets.  A pet owner may establish a fund and designate a trustee so that in the event of death or incapacity, the pet owner can be certain their pet will be cared for.  Massachusetts is one of 44 states to enact pet trust legislation; this is good news for pets, for pet lovers, and for the shelters in our community who traditionally care for pets after the owner has passed away.  Our own Bruce Tarr was one of the co-sponsors of the bill –many thanks to him, to those that drafted and moved this through the legislative process, and to the Governor for signing it. 

 

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