Should You Include Your Pets in Your Estate Plan?

Most people think about their spouse, children and friends when they are creating their estate plan. However, another loved one that you may want to consider is your pet. If you want to plan for the maintenance and care of your dog, cat or other animal after you are gone, there are several options to consider. You can appoint somebody to take care of your pet, but you may also want to financially provide for your animal’s care.

To plan for your pet, you need to work with a lawyer who is experienced in this area. An animal is not legally allowed to own money or assets, so you cannot make a direct transfer to your pet. However, you are allowed to appoint another person to take possession of your pet upon your death and you may leave money with your request that it be used to pay for the care of the animal. It is essential that you understand that unless you leave the money in trust, this individual may be morally obligated to honor your wishes and use the funds to care for your pet, but this person is not legally obligated to do so. You should also understand that unless you provide specific instructions for any remaining money left after your pet dies, the individual will be allowed to keep it. If the option of leaving it to an individual, and trusting them to do the right thing does not seem satisfactory to you, a pet trust may be something to consider. Most states recognize trusts created for the benefit of animals as being valid, but you should confer with an experienced local estate planning attorney to understand what your jurisdiction allows.

A pet trust can allow you to dictate how the money can be used for taking care of your pet, including:

  • Appointing the person to take care of your pet
  • Appointing a successor to take your pet if your first appointee is unable to do so
  • Appointing the individual to manage the pet trust
  • Outlining they type of care your pet requires
  • Leaving instructions for what to do with any remaining money after your pet dies

If you are interested in learning more about pet trusts or you have questions regarding other estate planning matter, contact our attorneys to schedule an appointment. The Astill Law Office has provided high quality legal services for over 30 years. We specialize in wills, trusts, estate planning, and asset protection. If you have any questions about creating a Trust, Will, or estate planning in general, contact The Astill Law Office at 801-438-8698.