When you are developing your inheritance plan, you may want to include your four-legged family members. Yes, it is possible to provide for a pet in an estate plan, and we will provide the details here.
Naming a Pet in Your Estate Plan
You can’t leave an inheritance to a pet, because animals cannot own property. However, you could get assets into the hands of a caretaker.
For example, let’s say that you have a border collie named Bailey, and you know that your younger sister loves the dog. You have a conversation with her, and she tells you that she would be glad to care for Bailey if it becomes necessary.
Since you do not want to burden your sister financially, you could pad her inheritance with an amount that would cover Bailey’s needs for life. You can leave the dog to your sister, and she would presumably care for Bailey if you die first.
This can be a perfectly acceptable arrangement if you are absolutely sure that the person that will act as the caregiver can be trusted. However, from a legal perspective, the inheritor could use the money as they see fit.
There are some programs out there that will take care of pets after their owners have passed away when arrangements have been made. The SPCA in your area may offer such a program, and short of this, they may be able to point you in the right direction.
We looked at two possibilities that are less than ideal because we want to explain all the options that exist. This being stated, many people would say that a trust is the best pet planning solution.
The way that it works is you fund the trust, and you do not have to worry about assets that may remain in the trust after the death of the pet. You would name a successor beneficiary, and they would receive distributions of the remainder under the terms you recorded in the trust agreement.
When you are drawing up this agreement, you would name a trustee to act as the administrator. It can be someone that you know personally, but you could alternately use a professional fiduciary. Trust companies and the trust departments of banks provide trustee services for a fee.
The trustee would have a fiduciary duty to faithfully execute the terms of the trust. You can be very specific about the way that you want the pet to be provided for after your passing, and the trustee would be compelled to follow the instructions to the letter.
Pet ownership can be very meaningful for a lonely senior that has lost loved ones along the way, but longevity is naturally going to be a source of concern. Since a pet trust is such an effective solution, it can give seniors the ability to enjoy the companionship responsibly.
Learn More About Estate Planning!
We do everything possible to provide educational opportunities to members of our community. You can learn a lot if you read our blog posts, and there are other written materials that you can access on this site free of charge.
One of them is our estate planning worksheet. This useful resource has been developed to make it easy for you to gain a more thorough understanding of this important process.
You can get your copy right now if you head over to our worksheet access page and follow the simple instructions.
Take Action Right Now!
If you have already learned enough to know that you should work with an estate planning attorney to put a plan in place, we are here to help.
Each situation is unique, and there are different approaches that can be taken, so personalized attention is key. This is exactly what you will receive when you choose our firm.
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