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Dispute ensues after woman's will leaves money for cats

Making provisions for any surviving pets can be an important, though often overlooked, part of estate planning. Even in cases where plans are made, however, things do not always go smoothly. According to reports, a New York woman left a total of $50,000 to her five cats, $10,000 a piece, but the executor of the trust for the cats and the cats' caretaker ended up at odds over the money involved in taking care of the cats.

The cat's original owner died on April 28 of last year and according to court documents, the trouble started on June 8, 2013. That was when the executor of the trust came to the home of the deceased woman's sister, who had taken three of the cats after her sister's death. At that time, the executor reportedly requested that the cats be taken to a pet psychologist.

According to reports, the executor had originally wanted to place the three cats the sister was taking care of in a different home, but the sister disagreed. In December of 2013, the sister filed a claim for $6,930 -- the amount was later changed to $8,805 -- for vet and cat care expenses that she wanted the estate to pay. The woman claimed that she was entitled to compensation from the estate for boarding and care expenses.

According to reports, the three cats at the center of the dispute were eventually adopted by a woman and taken to their new home on Sept. 1 of last year. The new owner apparently does not intend to claim the $30,000 inheritance that the cats are entitled to, according to court papers. The other two cats had already been adopted.

This case is a perfect example of how important it is to make sure that how a person's pets are to be taken care of after his or her death is made explicit in a will. If a trust is involved, the terms of the trust should be laid out as clearly as possible to reduce the risk of these types of disputes and ensure the pets are well loved and taken care of after the original owner has passed.

Source: New York Post, "Cat fight ensues over fate of $50K felines" Josh Saul, Apr. 15, 2014

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