09 Jun Who Will Feed Fido When You’re Gone? Estate Planning for Pets
You love Lassie like a family member. Of course you want to ensure she is well cared for when you’re no longer around. With a little estate planning, you can rest assured your four-legged companion has access to the resources and care he or she needs – even if you’re not there to provide it. Read on to discover estate planning options for you and your pets.
Including Pets in Your Will
When considering an estate plan that protects your pets, one option you have is to include them in your will. However, when drafting your will to include pets, it is important to understand you cannot leave property to them. In the eyes of the law, pets are property. Property cannot be left to property. Therefore, money intended to go towards a pet’s care must be left to a trusted individual. Since pets are considered property, it’s also necessary to name a caretaker in your will. Naming a caretaker ensures your pet legally becomes a trusted individual’s property after your death. Having a back-up caretaker is a good provision to include in your will as well in case the original caretaker becomes ill or dies before you.
Drawbacks of Including Pets in Your Will
Including pets in your will does have drawbacks. One of the largest drawbacks of using a will to ensure your pets are cared for is the lack of legal obligation attached to the money intended to be spent on your pet. The caretaker who receives the money is not legally required to spend it on your pet. Therefore, legal action can’t be taken against them for misusing the money.
Creating a Pet Trust
Another option to consider when planning for the care of your pets is a pet trust. A trust is a legal document that distributes property after a person’s death. Unlike a will, a trust contains a set of rules, which determine how, when, and where property is distributed. Since a trust contains a set of rules for how property is distributed, creating a pet trust ensures the money you leave for your pets is spent exactly how you intended. If the caretaker named in your trust doesn’t follow the rules, legal action may be taken against him or her. Having a set of built in rules also enables you to provide more specific instructions on how a pet should be cared for.
Drawbacks of Creating a Pet Trust
A pet trust does have its own drawbacks, however. Since a trust is created with a set of rules, it is less flexible. A lack of flexibility becomes a problem if circumstances change following your death. Also, if a care taker is trustworthy, a trust with a rigid set of rules is also unnecessary.