Don’t treat companion animals like property in your will

| Sep 28, 2020 | Estate Planning |

As you grow older, you may find that you need to revisit your estate plan or possibly create one if you didn’t do it earlier in life. In addition to putting your medical preferences in writing and allocating your assets to different family members or charities, you will also need to think about the care of any pets or companion animals that you have at this point in your life.

It is a common strategy for people to simply name a family member to receive the pets as a possession during their state. This approach can unfortunately result in a tragic outcome for your beloved pet.

Even people you love and trust may not want the burden of another animal

You probably talked with your loved ones about them taking your pet if you die. You may have even set aside a few extra assets to compensate them for promising to care for your pet.

Unfortunately, if all you do is name someone to take over ownership of the pet, once the executor gives them possession of your animal, they can do whatever they want with it. That could very well include taking your beloved pet directly to a veterinarian to have it put down or abandoning it at an animal shelter.

A trust helps ensure that someone cares for your pet

Creating a trust specifically to provide for your pets is one of the best options available. You can name someone other than the person who will take care of the animal as the trustee.

In order for the person who takes your animal to access the money you leave behind to care for your pet, they will have to actually maintain the animal and provide for it. The trustee provides a critical secondary layer of protection by overseeing the trust and ensuring that it benefits your pet.

Creating and funding a pet trust will ensure that your companion animal gets support when you die. It also lets you maintain control over your assets, as you can leave behind instructions for how the trustee can distribute those assets once your pet dies of natural causes.