There is no doubt we are a nation of pet lovers. Unfortunately, the law as it is currently written views pets as property, so providing for your pet in your will won’t work.
So how do you protect your favorite fur-person?
With a pet trust.
To create a pet trust, you should first discuss your wishes for your pet(s) with a Personal Family Lawyer® so your pet trust will be executed properly and will be legally enforceable after you are gone.
When planning for your pet trust, you should:
Choose someone to act as trustee. Be sure you discuss your intentions beforehand with your potential pet trustee to ensure they are both willing and able to carry out your wishes.
Choose a successor trustee. If your first choice for trustee is unable to act as trustee, a second person should be named as successor trustee.
Choose caregivers. Some people elect to name a financially responsible individual as trustee and another person as caregiver for their pet(s). Be sure to specify a primary and secondary caregiver.
Provide ID information. To help prevent fraud, you should include identification information in your pet trust, including photos of your pet(s) and microchip ID numbers.
Give care instructions. Provide care details for your pet(s), including how often they should be taken to the vet for check-ups, nutritional requirements and any other healthcare information.
Establish how much money is needed to care for your pet(s). You need to be realistic, because large amounts left for pets could be subject to a challenge from other heirs. Be sure to figure in the cost of trust administration as well.
Select a beneficiary. When the last pet you have provided for in your pet trust dies, you should name the person or entity that will receive the leftover funds in the trust.
Supply final instructions. Leave instructions for having your pet(s) buried or cremated.
If you’d like to learn more about how to provide for loved ones after you’ve gone or have other estate planning questions, call our office today to schedule a time for us to sit down and talk. We normally charge $750 for a Family Wealth Planning Session, but because this planning is so important, I’ve made space for the next two people who mention this article to have a complete planning session at no charge. Call today and mention this article.