Protect Your Pets by Providing For Them in Your Estate Plan
Pets… They greet us when we come home. They love us unconditionally. They protect and comfort us. They provide companionship. Essentially, they are a part of the family. Did you know that parrots can live for 50 years or more? Cats and dogs are a 15 to 20-year commitment. So don’t forget them when you are doing estate planning.
Under current estate law, pets are considered property, and a pet cannot be left any part of an owner’s estate outright. However, pet owners can still protect their pets from ending up in shelters with a little advance planning.
How can I protect my pet after I’m gone?
There are several options you can consider to protect your pet, but all require choosing a guardian to care for your pet once you are gone. The guardian is an important choice because that person may potentially be taking on a long-term responsibility. Make sure your proposed guardian is on board. Here are two ways you can continue to look after your pet:
- Will: The easiest way to provide for your furry friend is to put a provision in your Will leaving money to your pet guardian for the care of the pet. Alternatively, a trust for the lifetime of a pet can be created through your Will. Be aware that until your Will is admitted to probate and your executor is officially appointed, no money can be distributed. Plan ahead to make sure your pet is provided for in the meantime.
- Trust: If a significant amount of money is intended to be used to support your beloved pet after your death, you might consider a trust, which can be included in your Will or can be a stand-alone document. A stand-alone trust provides an immediate care plan as well as immediate trust money that can be used for the care of the pet. A trust gives you a lot of flexibility in the terms: you can dictate how the money should be spent, who the successor to the pet guardian should be, and who should be the beneficiary of any remaining money in the trust once the pet has passed too.
It’s important to come up with the best option for you, your pet, and your particular situation. We can help. We can assist you in coming up with a plan for your four-legged companions to ensure that your pets live a long happy life, even in your absence. We understand – we have pets too. At Makofsky Valente Law Group, P.C. we are here to help with all of your estate planning and future needs. We are only an email or phone call away!
The information provided herein does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials available here are for general informational purposes only.