When Your Pets Outlive You
We have all heard the story of the little old lady that willed her fortune to her dog…or maybe it was her six cats. The first reaction is, this lady must be crazy. And what lawyer let her write her Will doing this. But the reality is, she was probably being true to her heart. We tend to form deep bonds with our pets. And as we get older, they can become an important companion. Providing needed love and mental well being. So it is not hard to understand the desire to end life with the peace of mind that comes from taking care of that beloved pet.
Not planning for a pet's care puts the life of the animal in jeopardy. The main concern is finding the pet at the person's death and no arrangements have been made. Many cases find the pet ending up in a shelter. Maybe even euthanized, if it is an older pet. Without a plan, abandonment of the animal becomes common.
has adapted over the years to include setting up a Pet Trust. As of 2018, all 50 states have enacted Pet
Trust laws. The typical estate plan
allows you to have a strategy for managing your assets after you die. Including what will happen to your property,
investments and other assets. Adding in
a Pet Trust to your estate plan, makes sure you have cash or other assets designated
to pay for the pet's care and expenses.
Just like any trust, you will name a trustee that will manage the funds
and take care of paying for Vet check-ups, Grooming Costs, Feeding, boarding
and other needs. The trust can also
specify end of life care for the pet.
Including burial or cremation.
Most Pet Trusts will remain in place until the pet's death. However some states have put a cap on how
long the trust can last. Say, 21 years.
this, you probably have in your mind, dogs or cats. But there is really no limit to the type of
pets that you can set up the trust for. Small, large, even a horse.
question that comes up is: how much money is needed to fund it? Costs can vary depending on age and
health. A good source to go to is your
veterinarian. They should be able to
guide you on your specific pet's future needs. Important things to ask include: the cost of vaccines, checkups, medications
for heartworm or other basic preventions.
Then you can put your personal desires on the list: grooming, pet
sitting, etc. Including money for pet
insurance might be a good way to keep the unknown cost down. It is important to document, your
calculations, so any heirs to your estate don't challenge that the trust is too
pet's caregiver is crucial at this point.
Make sure you discuss it with them.
And there is nothing wrong with including money in the trust to pay the
caregiver for their time. Again, just
make sure it is documented to avoid heirs crying foul.
Make sure the
trust details what happens to any remaining funds when the pet passes
away. You could have it go to the
beneficiaries of your Will or donate it to charity. And while you may only be thinking about
providing for your pet when you are gone, don't forget to plan the trust to
start if you become incapacitated.
Talk with both
your estate attorney and/or financial advisor to make sure everything is in
order for that most loved creature in your live…your pet.