Can I Include My Pet in My Estate Plans?
Published On: July 7, 2018 by TCK
They may not be people, but we do consider them family. Dogs, cats, birds and other pets that we feed and nurture can become a big part of our lives. But what happens when these loyal companions outlive us? Is there any way for us to secure care for them in our estate plans?
What Happens to Our Pets After We Pass?
Have you thought about what will happen to Fido—or your other pets—after you have passed? Many people don’t, and so these cherished family members are often left out of estate planning. When this happens, and a pet owner dies, that pet is considered property and passed on to heirs via probate. This can sometimes make life difficult for your pet.
If your heirs don’t want the pet or if there are no heirs to claim the pet, this can lead to the animal being sent to a shelter. From that point, there is no telling where your beloved companion’s fate will lie. Luckily, you have options to keep this from happening.
When writing your will, you can specify who will get your pets once you pass. This can ensure that your pet has a home once you are no longer able to care for them. You can even pay for that pet’s care by gifting money to the person who will take care of your pet. However, if that money is used for something other than pet care, then there are no legal options to fix that problem.
A more legally binding method to protect your pet after your passing is to set up a pet trust. A pet trust will allow you to assign who will care for you pet, who will manage the funds set aside for your pet and who will be responsible for making sure your wishes are followed. If someone misuses funds meant to care for your pet after you’re gone, then a member of that trust can sue, ensuring that your pet’s future is secured.
There are even more options when dealing with the future of your pets past your lifetime. Discover those options by contacting a trust and estate counselor. And to learn more about ensuring your legacy is preserved in the future, keep following the blog of Temmerman, Cilley & Kohlmann, LLP.