As elder law attorneys, we speak with people that are concerned about the eventualities of aging, and we conduct our own research in a general sense. While it is true that we focus on financial matters first and foremost, we also look at the larger picture in a holistic manner.
When you start to reach an advanced age as a retired person, you no longer enjoy the camaraderie that goes along with a daily routine in the workplace. Close family members may move away, and unfortunately, you may survive your spouse and some of your long-time friends.
Even if you are emotionally strong, these losses take a toll on a day by day basis when the companionship is simply not there. Under these circumstances, it would be logical to consider pet ownership.
In addition to the simple companionship, a pet will require your care, and this can give you a renewed sense of purpose. If you have a dog, it will require exercise, so you will have a reason to get out of the house to take walks. Short of this, you could get some physical activity out in the yard.
Dogs are good protectors, even if they are small, because they will certainly let you know if they hear any sounds that are outside of the ordinary. Cats may not need as much attention, but they can be fantastic furry friends as well.
All of the above would make sense to most people, but the matter of longevity would naturally enter your mind. This is prudent, but there are steps that you can take to assuage these concerns.
One of them would be to adopt a pet that is up there in years. If it is reasonably likely that you will outlive the pet, you would be giving an older dog or cat a loving home during the latter portion of its life.
However, if you would rather bring a younger animal into your home, there is a legal step you can take to make sure that the pet is properly cared for when the time comes.
People wonder if it is possible to leave money to a pet in a will and ask someone to verbally commit to acting as the caretaker if and when it becomes necessary. This is not an option, because pets cannot own any type of property.
You could leave the pet to someone in your Last Will and leave the person an inheritance with the idea that the money would be used to care for the pet.
There are a couple of problems with this approach. At first, you would have to find someone that is willing to voluntarily assume the role. Secondly, this individual would not be legally compelled to use the inheritance for the benefit of the pet.
There is a better solution in the form of a pet trust. You could fund the trust and name a trustee to administer it after you are gone. If you do not know anyone that would be a suitable trustee, you could engage a professional fiduciary such as a trust company.
In the trust declaration, you would leave specific instructions with regard to the way that you want to pet to be cared for after your passing. You could name a caretaker that has agreed to act in this capacity, and if this is not possible, the trustee could find someone that is willing.
When a pet trust is in place, you can go forward with total peace of mind. Plus, you don’t have to worry about any money that may be left over in the trust after the death of the pet. You would name a successor beneficiary in the trust document to assume ownership of the remainder.
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Our attorneys are holding a series of seminars over the coming weeks, and you can learn a lot if you attend one of these sessions. Though there is no admission charge, we ask that you register in advance, because space is limited. You can visit our seminar schedule page to check out the dates and obtain detailed registration information.