Providing for Pets in your Estate Plan
Tips for making your your furry and feathered friends are protected in your Will or Trust.
Designate a Care Taker Succession PlanSelect a person who will best be able to care for your pet(s). Also designate at least one back up in the event that your selected person is not available to act. A good back-up option is to direct your Personal Representative or Trustee to find a suitable home for your pet(s) through your last known veterinarian or a charitable organization that you trust. If you wish for your pets to stay together or there are any special needs or considerations, be sure to state those in your document.
Consider a Gift - outright or in trustYou may wish to leave a monetary amount to the caretaker as a thank-you or to offset care expenses. If you wish to leave more than a token amount, consider a Pet Trust. A Pet Trust allows you to set aside a sum to be used for the care and comfort of your pet(s). You select the Trustee, and direct where the balance of the assets go if funds remain in the trust following your pet(s) death.
Pet Trust Considerations(1) Check State Law for precatory trust requirements in your state, and consult an estate planning attorney to draft the document for you.
(2) Select the Trustee carefully. A Trustee that differs from the designated caretaker provides a good 'check' on the quality of care.
(3) Determine an appropriate beneficiary for where any remaining funds will go after your pets death. Oftentimes, this is an animal related charitable organization.
Include an Incapacity PlanIt is not uncommon for a person to set up a pet trust or care plan for their pet if they die, but overlook a plan for pet care in the event of their incapacity. Designating a caretaker for your pets in an Durable Power of Attorney would allow your agent to transfer custody of the pets to that person and to pay for any care expenses during your incapacity.