Planning for Furry Family Members
June 5, 2018
To many people, their pets are considered family; to some, their pets are their only family. The question of who is going to take care of these beloved animals has become a hot issue in recent years.
Although the family pet may have many human attributes, under the current law, pets are considered property. As such, a pet cannot be left any part of an owner’s estate outright. This, however, does not prevent a pet owner from providing for his/her pet after death; it just takes a little planning.
Without a plan for your four-legged friends, your pets could wind up in a shelter. At the very minimum, you should make arrangements for who will care for your pet when you are gone. It is important to make sure that this commitment is firm as your pet may outlive you by many years. You must make sure your proposed pet guardian is ready to care for your pet the same way you would.
The easiest way to make preparations is to provide for your pet in your Will. Placing provisions in your Will for the care of your pet is likely the most cost effective option. In New York, you can leave a conditional monetary bequest in your Will to the pet guardian which would require the pet guardian to use the money to care for your pet. One thing to be aware of is that until your Will is admitted to probate and your executor is formally appointed, no one has legal authority to distribute your property; therefore, advance planning should be done to make sure your pet is cared for in the interim.
Another option to care for your pet is to create a stand alone trust before your death. A properly drafted trust provides an immediate care plan for your pet and requires no waiting period before trust monies can be used for your pet. With a trust, you can dictate the terms, how the money should be spent, who the remainder beneficiaries will be, and you can also name a successor to the person originally charged with taking care of your pet. Additionally, the law allows for the trust to remain in effect until the death of the animal beneficiary.
There are a few different options available to make sure your family pets are provided for after your death. Come in and let us help you determine which one is right for you.