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Updated: Jun 24, 2023

The executor is the person who will be in charge of your estate after your death. The Executor is also called the Personal Representative. The executor will gather your assets and keep them safe, pay debts and taxes, and distribute your assets following the terms of your will. Perhaps you think you don’t have anything of value or significance to leave to someone or perhaps you don’t have someone to leave your assets. BUT, remember that under the law, your pets are considered property which is an asset. If you don't identify someone to see to the care of your pets, someone will be assigned for you and as you will see in the article below, that someone may not carry out your wishes for your pets.

Every state has laws that put in place someone to manage your estate, no matter how small. There will be someone who takes on all the responsibilities of an executor. That person will be called the administrator or the personal representative, depending on the custom in your state. If there is no will, it's up to the probate court to appoint an administrator. But how does the court, without guidance from a will, choose someone? The answer is found in state law.

Generally, most states follow a priority similar to the following:

  1. Surviving spouse, or a person the surviving spouse nominates

  2. Children

  3. Mother or father

  4. Brothers or sisters

  5. Grandchildren

  6. Next of kin entitled to inherit under state law

  7. Creditors

  8. Any legally competent person

What should you do if you don’t have someone to be the Executor? Here are some options for you:

  • Choosing a trusted friend as your executor. If you don't have any family members that you would appoint as your primary executor, you could consider naming a trusted friend as executor.

  • Hiring a professional executor. An attorney or financial planner can serve as a professional executor for your estate. These individuals have the skills and experience necessary to handle the tasks associated with managing an estate, and they can be a good choice if you don't have any friends or family members who are able or willing to take on the role.

  • Naming a charity as your executor. If you don't have any living friends or family members and you don't want to hire a professional executor, you could consider naming a charity as your executor. This can be a good option if you have a particular cause that you would like to support after you pass away. Keep in mind that charities are not required to accept the role as executor, but if you donated to them frequently during your lifetime or you appoint them as a substantial beneficiary in your estate plan, they may be more willing to accept the role.

Regardless of who you choose, please consider the following

  • Discuss your plans with the individual. Before you appoint the individual as your executor, it's a good idea to discuss your estate plan with them and make sure they understand your wishes. This will help ensure that everything is carried out in accordance with your desires.

  • Include the individual in your estate plan. To ensure that the individual is properly appointed as your executor, you'll need to include their name and contact information in your estate plan.

The article below shows what can happen if a lawyer is not familiar with pet estate planning and the importance of having an Executor, Designated Caregivers and even an Enforcer in a pet estate plan. The role of Executor is critical to ensuring that your wishes for your pets will be honored.

Florida woman leaves inheritance, Tampa estate to 7 Persian cats

Kate Perez


Published June 20, 2023

A Florida woman who died in November decided to leave her estate to her seven Persian cats, along with an inheritance for each one.

Nancy Sauer of Tampa, Florida, died on November 26 at age 84. According to the Tampa Bay Times, Sauer left a stipulation in her will that her seven cats are to remain in her estate with each receiving an inheritance.

This is not the first time a pet has been the recipient of an owner's money. Designer Karl Lagerfeld left a chunk of his inheritance to his beloved cat, Choupette, when he died in 2019.

Sauer's friend Yana Alban told the Tampa Bay Times that the will indicates the estate would not be sold until the last cat died. The owner was worried the pets would struggle if they were separated.

According to the Humane Society of Tampa Bay, the cats have continued to inhabit the 4,000-square-foot house. Despite the stipulation, however, a Hillsborough County probate judge recently decided that the cats should be placed in new homes.

Sherry Silk, the executive director of the Humane Society of Tampa Bay, told the Tampa Bay Times that the cats should not be alone in a house that size. Silk said there was someone to check on the cats multiple times each day while they were living in the home, but the humane society has had the cats at its facility for the past month.

“I am going to personally make sure that we can keep as many together as we can and that they go to the perfect house,” Silk said.

The cats will be available for adoption later this week. The amount of each cat's inheritance is currently being determined by an attorney, but Silk said it will be "substantial" and enough to cover the cat's necessities forever.

“They’re only five years old. Persians can be expensive and persnickety,” Silk said.

So well intentioned? Perhaps, but the judge and even the Humane Society, ignored the owner's wishes and not only seized her cats, but traumatized them by taking them to a shelter and then proceeded to adopt them out to separate homes. Perpetual Care serves as your Personal Representative in order to ensure that your wishes are carried out and if you have no one to care for your pets, Perpetual Care serves as your designated caregiver.

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