LegalZoom Offers the Pet Protection Agreement with the Last Will and Testament

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Customers can choose to add the agreement when they purchase their will

In the eyes of the law, pets are treated the same way as property. Therefore, the judge or the executor of an estate must often make the critical decisions as to who will take care of an owner’s pets.

LegalZoom announced today that it began offering its Pet Protection Agreement as an option for customers to add to their Last Will and Testament. Already available as a stand-alone product since April 2010, customers now have the option to purchase the agreement when they purchase a last will. Being able to get the Pet Protection Agreement in conjunction with a last will gives pet owners the ability to safeguard their pet’s future well-being at the same time they are taking care of the rest of their loved ones.

Created in conjunction with noted animal law attorney, Rachel Hirschfeld, the Pet Protection Agreement lets pet owners decide who will take care of their pets and how they will be cared for. It's a simple agreement that is much less complex (and less expensive) than a formal Pet Trust. The agreement allows pet owners to name a pet guardian to be responsible for taking care of a pet in case something happens to them.

“When people think about estate planning, the first, and sometimes only, thing that comes to mind for most people and their attorneys is a will,” says animal law attorney Rachel Hirschfeld. “Although a will can specify how property should be distributed, a pet in a will has drawbacks; specifically, if the will is required to go to probate, it can take a long time to settle who will care for the pet.”

In the eyes of the law, pets are treated the same way as property. Therefore, the judge or the executor of an estate must often make the critical decisions as to who will take care of an owner’s pets. But probate can take months, even years. And even the most well-meaning family members may not be able to follow through in caring properly for a surviving pet. For reasons as diverse as allergies, work schedules, conflicts with other pets and housing restrictions, informal promises made by friends and family to care for pets often fail.

The Pet Protection Agreement is not only effective if a pet owner passes away—it's also effective if they are in an accident or become unable to care for their pet. It’s a private agreement between the pet owner and the pet guardian. The owner has the option to leave money to care for their pet and can give specifics about their pet’s care—from the brand of food they like to eat, to their primary vet and even the groomer they visit. The agreement also contains provisions that allow the pet guardian to obtain access to the pet in the event of an emergency.

“We are really excited to be able to offer the Pet Protection Agreement to our Last Will and Testament customers,” says Nelly Jacobo, VP and General Manager of the Personal Services Division for LegalZoom. “By offering our customers the opportunity to create a Pet Protection Agreement while creating their last will, many more people will be ensuring the ongoing well-being of their pets.”

For more information about the Pet Protection Agreement, click here.

About Rachel Hirschfeld, Esq.
Rachel Hirschfeld is a nationally renowned expert in estate planning and the preeminent authority on continuing protection of all animals. Her mission is to ensure that every pet that has found a loving home is guaranteed a secure future. She was one of the first attorneys in the country to focus on what is now known as animal law. Through her practice, and the devastating illnesses of her beloved shelter dog, Soupbone, she created the Pet Protection Agreement™, which provides legal protection for a pet’s continued care. For more information, please visit http://www.pettrustlawyer.com.

About LegalZoom
LegalZoom.com is the nation’s leading online legal document service. Cofounded by top attorneys including Robert Shapiro in 2001, LegalZoom makes it easy, convenient and affordable to take care of important legal matters through its website, LegalZoom.com. Offerings include: last wills, living wills, powers of attorney, incorporation, limited liability companies, small claims, trademarks and more. LegalZoom is not a law firm and does not provide legal advice or counsel. For more information, please visit http://www.legalzoom.com.

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Scott MacDonell
LegalZoom.com, Inc.
323-962-8600 ext. 233
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