One of the primary goals of estate planning is to ensure your family members are well cared-for, even after you pass away. For many individuals, those family members can include pets, whose wellbeing is of high importance. Thankfully, the estate planning process provides a number of options for making sure your four-legged friends are in good hands following your death.
The bottom line: You’d never forget to stipulate a guardian for your children, and neither should you neglect to provide a clear sense of what you want to happen to your dog or cat. In this post, we’ll show you how.
Estate Planning for Pets, Then and Now
Historically, pets have simply been “gifted” to friends and family members, making sure that four-legged loved ones have a place to go when you pass away. That’s still a fine option, but note that the role pets play in our lives has evolved—and so have the options for assuring their wellbeing.
One option to consider is setting up a pet trust. This provides not only clear direction for where your pets should go (and who should take care of them) after you die, but also the funds to provide that care. Indeed, pet trusts allow you to put away some monetary assets that are earmarked for ongoing pet maintenance. And as with a regular trust, there is a trustee appointed to manage these funds—someone separate from the caretaker you select to take care of your animal.
In setting up the pet trust, you can outline the potential ways in which the funds may be used—for example, to provide medical care or to compensate for an emergency surgical procedure. The pet’s caretaker, meanwhile, may request funds from the trust whenever they are needed. The trustee ensures that the funds are distributed in accordance with your wishes and the pet’s needs.
The bottom line: By setting up a pet trust, you can feel greater peace of mind about how your pet will be cared for. And, you can ensure that caring for the pet doesn’t place any financial burden on the appointed caretaker.
One more thing to note about pet trusts is that, when the pet dies, there may still be some money left in the account. One thing you can do is set up the trust so that any remaining funds are simply transferred to the pet’s caretaker—a gesture of gratitude for their faithful service.
Taking Care of Your Pets—Even After Death
The pet trust is just one example of how the estate planning process can allow you to make sure your furry friends are well taken care of—but there are plenty of other ways you can attend to your pet’s needs, too. For example, you can actually use your estate plan to specify “visitation plans,” making it so that any human relatives who wish to see the pet are able to do so.
There is much to consider as you think about the needs of your family, and your pets in particular. The best way to lay the right plans, and to establish an effective trust, is to meet with an estate planning attorney. Here at Singh Law Firm, we have ample experience providing clients with solutions that are tailored to their needs and goals—and that can definitely encompass pets!
The first step toward setting up a smart, pet-friendly estate plan is to meet with one of our attorneys. Contact Singh Law Firm at your next opportunity and let us know that you’re interested in estate planning for your pet!