Estate Planning and Your Pets

While some estate owners would love to leave everything they own to their animal when they die, this is generally not going to work, no matter how much you love your little animal. In fact, because a pet cannot own property at any time, it is impossible for you to leave your estate in the hands of your animal. However, when you plan your estate, there are many means for which you can ensure that your animal is properly cared for in the event of your death. As pet owners, we care deeply for our animals and want to do whatever we can in order to properly care for their well-being. Especially if we don't have children, our animals are the next best things, and we treat them as such. While there are a number of reasons for creating an estate plan, one of the many important ones that may arise is simply in order to care for your animal in the way it deserves.

In the event that you were to die, how you care for your pet may come in a number of different ways. For example, you may choose to go about the non-legal route by simply asking a close friend or family member to care for your animal when you die. However, this may not be a reliable source of security for some, so there are more complex options such as establishing a trust or even leaving your animal with a specific organization or care group that takes in animals when their owners pass away. If you are looking for a little more stability for your animal, to ensure that they will be well looked after, the legal route may be what is best for you.

If you are considering estate planning, be sure to contact a trusted estate planning and probate lawyer in your area immediately. Even if you are not ill today, you never know what life may have in store for you—it is never too early to plan ahead. Once you have met with your trusted attorney, you will then want to determine who you can trust for this process, someone you know will offer the care and compassion that you know you pet deserves. When you make that decision, be sure to contact that person about your plans before writing them into your actual estate planning documents, the less surprised they are the better. When you establish your last will and testament, it is important to remember that in no way can you leave property or any money to your pet. Your will can be used, however, to help the caretaker care for your pet over the years.

When establishing a pet trust, another aspect you must realize is that this process tends to be more complicating. What is unique about this trust, however, is the fact that once a trustee agrees to the term it is a binding contract and they are now therefore responsible to accomplish the agreed upon tasks. In the event that they fail to follow the requirements listed out in the trust, they may face a lawsuit. In this trust, it will include the list of states in which your animals are covered, you will give the information of the designated caretaker with specific instructions as to how they are responsible to care for the pet. You will then set up a way of leaving them with the specified money that they will use to care for the pet. Just in case they fail to carry out the terms of the agreement, in this trust you will also want to name another person whom you can trust to take them to court if they fail to follow the instructions for your animal. Lastly, you will also list out how you would like the animal to be cared for in the even you become extremely ill, though you have not died yet.

There are a few benefits to establishing a trust for your pet within your estate pan, the first being that someone is given he legal obligation to fulfill your wishes for the animal. Secondly, you can rest assured that the court will hold whomever that person is accountable for handling your money properly (for example, not to spend the money on themselves rather than the pet). Lastly, there is an advantage to being able to establish a specific plan for your animal today before you become incapable of doing so in the future do to illness or death.

For more information regarding estate planning, please use our website to locate a probate lawyer in your area!