Estate Planning and Your PetsWednesday, October 31st, 2018, 9:01 am
If you have a faithful pet you’ve lived with for years and who may outlive you, you may want to set aside some of your estate to provide care for them. Of course, pets can’t legally own property, so you can’t leave your home or any money to them. What you can do, however, is create an estate that has specific instructions regarding your pets. There are a number of different things you can do here to ensure your cat, dog, or other loved pet is taken care of.
Instructions in Your Will
You can put instructions in your will that ask someone you trust to take care of your pets. In fact, you can even leave that person some money or property that you would like them to use to care for your animals. Unfortunately, that person is not in any way legally obligated to use the money to take care of your pets. In fact, they are not even legally obligated to take your pets. Because of that, it’s vital you make arrangements ahead of time with someone you trust and know will love your pets as you would. Otherwise, there’s no guarantee they will be taken care of.
Create a Pet Trust
If you’re worried about the money you leave for your pet’s care will be misused, you can create a pet trust. This option is more complicated than simply leaving someone money in a will with instructions to use it for your pet. When you create a trust, the person you name as the caretaker will be legally required to follow your instructions.
In your trust, you will name all of the pets you want taken care of, who the caretaker is, and the amount of money left, just as you would in a will. However, you will also need to go into more detail about the level of care you expect your pets to receive. You can also name another person to safeguard the trust. This person will be empowered to take the caretaker to court if they believe the caretaker is not providing the level of care you outlined. Finally, you will also need to decide what will happen with any leftover money after your pet dies.
Seek Legal Assistance
Creating a trust isn’t as simple as writing a will. If you want to make certain your pets are protected, you need to seek legal counsel. Michael F. Kanzer & Associates is here to assist you with writing a will, creating a pet trust, and all of your other estate planning needs.