Estate Planning for Pets


It’s not enough to just provide him with a good home!

“If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.”
–Will Rogers

“You think dogs will not be in heaven? I tell you, they will be there long before any of us.”
–Robert Louis Stevenson

“If I have any beliefs about immortality, it is that certain dogs I have known will go to heaven, and very, very few persons.”
–James Thurber

“My dog is worried about the economy because Alpo is up to $3.00 a can. That’s almost $21.00 in dog money.”
–Joe Weinstein

(Yes, I went nuts with the quotations.)

It’s no mystery that I am a dog lover. Here’s more proof.

I’m also a real estate investor. Again, anyone who’s read me for a while knows that’s no mystery either.

To me, the best deals in real estate are the ones where the buyer takes advantage of someone else’s inconvenient circumstances.

Unfortunately, sometimes those circumstances involve the passing of a house owner and the inheritance of said house by unwilling family members who live several states away (to find out how you can avoid this situation, subscribe to my free 52 week Financial Game Plan).

Most of the time, at least some of it was planned – the person wanted to age in place, had a child to take care of her/him, and passed in a way that they wanted. The child, having done her duty (it’s almost always a she in these situations) as a caretaker, is ready to move on, and part of moving on involves getting rid of the parents’ house.

However, I’ve encountered situations where there was little to no planning involved, and the house is a decrepit wreck. Of course, I’m seeing opportunity where others see misery.

But, to me, some of the saddest situations are the ones where there were pets involved and nobody thought about what would happen to the pets.

When we were in Chile, we saw a lot of stray dogs. I asked someone why there were so many strays.

“Someone dies and has pets. The kids don’t want the pets, so they kick the pets out of the house,” was the response.

In the situations I’ve seen, it’s even worse.

The pets aren’t kicked out.

They’re abandoned in place.

I’ve gone into homes filled with pet waste and pets who haven’t had human attention or care since their owner(s) passed away goodness knows how many days or weeks ago.

That situation breaks my heart. My “crazy cat lady” gene almost kicks in and takes over, but instead, we try to get the inheritor of the place to call a local no-kill shelter to take care of the abandoned animals.

Don’t Forget Your Other “Kids” in Your Estate Plan!

Why Doctors Smoke and Why You’ll Follow Financial Advice From Someone Else

Et æble om dagen...

Wrong in so many ways…

“My doctor tells me I should start slowing it down – but there are more old drunks than there are old doctors so let’s all have another round.”
–Willie Nelson

“If two heads are better than one, then what about double chins?”
–Jarod Kintz

Have you ever walked into a doctor’s office or a hospital and noticed a cluster of people standing in scrubs and overcoats clouded in a shroud of cigarette smoke?

Yet, how many doctors would recommend to their patients that they smoke tobacco?

When I was at West Point, one of the leadership credos that they hammered into my head was “do as I do rather than do as I say.”

In other words, if we wanted our soldiers to do something, then we had to demonstrate that we were just as capable of doing what we were asking them to do as they were. Naturally, this wasn’t always possible. Jobs are specialized, and the higher up you go in an organization, the less you’re going to be able to perform each job that your subordinates perform. Still, though, you had to lead by example and provide demonstrable leadership so that others would do as you asked. You couldn’t ask your soldiers to run 5 miles if you could only run 3, or, more darkly, you couldn’t ask your soldiers to go onto a battlefield and step into harm’s way if you hung out in the rear quivering with fear.

However, in many service industries – the medical is just one…I can think of financial planners who have had their houses foreclosed on or are neck deep in credit card debt, for example – we take advice from people who can’t really say that they’re modeling the behavior that they are asking their clients to exhibit.

Why is that? And why should we follow their advice rather than go with what we think is the best?

That was a question that Northwestern University’s Dr. Laura Kray and the University of Michigan’s Dr. Richard Gonzalez looked to answer with research they conducted regarding how people both made decisions and gave advice about future sticky situations.

Advice May Be Worth More Than You Pay for It

What Would You Do If This Pay Stub Was Yours?

I’m out this week at the Women’s World Cup (go USA!), so we’ll do a quick, fun exercise! Below is a picture of Major League Baseball star Andrew McCutchen’s pay stub. What do you see wrong with the pay stub? What would you do with one paycheck of that size? Let’s talk about it in […]

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Should I Stay or Should I Go?

“Every dreamer knows that it is entirely possible to be homesick for a place you’ve never been to, perhaps more homesick than for familiar ground.” –Judith Thurman “There are things you just can’t do in life. You can’t beat the phone company, you can’t make a waiter see you until he’s ready to see you, […]

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Where’s Waldo? My Recent Appearances

Occasionally, others ask me to share some insight with their audiences on a variety of personal finance topics. I’m always grateful to them for sharing the opportunity. Here are a few of my recent appearances for (what I hope is) your reading pleasure: MarketWatch | How to Save $1 Million in Your 401(k) How to […]

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Is Asset Allocation Just a Form of Market Timing?

“Only liars manage to always be out during bad times and in during good times.” –Bernard Baruch I recently had a reader ask me a question via e-mail: I’m writing regarding the research by Dr. Wade Pfau that suggests that retirees are significantly better off holding only 20% in equities during the first five years […]

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