Estate Planning for Your Pet
For many people, a pet is a member of the family. As such, they have a concern about the welfare of their dog, cat, horse, etc. in the event of their death. Planning for the care of your pet is a specialized area of estate law. Your Bryan estate attorney will help you understand your options and which is best suited to your situation.
Leaving Property to Pets
Pets are considered property. As such, you cannot leave money or property to a dog or cat. What you can do is make arrangements for the care of your animal so that you ensure its welfare after your death. When you make such arrangements you need to consider first who is best suited for this purpose, and then whether than individual has the financial means of taking care of the animal. If not, you can leave a certain amount in your will to the individual for this purpose.
One problem with this is that the person who has been left with the care of your dog or cat is not legally bound to use the money for the purpose you intended in your will. In other words, he may use the money for his own benefit and disregard the pet.
While creating a pet trust is a more complicated and expensive process than simply leaving a specified amount of money in your will for the care and maintenance of a pet, it is more likely that your wishes will be carried out. With a pet trust you arrange for a caretaker to follow certain guidelines and use the money in the trust for the care of your pet. The caretaker can face legal repercussions if he or she fails to abide by the trust.
In the pet trust you need to make sure to include the following:
- The name of the pet to be cared for
- Name a caretaker who has agreed to assume the role
- A sufficient amount of money for the care of the pet
- A description of how the pet is to be cared for. Make sure to include specifics, such as the name of the veterinarian you use and any medications the pet must take.
- Name an individual who has agreed to go to court to enforce the trust if this becomes necessary. This can be your attorney.
- Provisions for care of your pet during your lifetime should you become incapacitated and unable to do so
- Instructions on use of any remaining money in the trust after the pet dies
Pet trusts have both advantages and disadvantages, and you should discuss with your attorney whether such a trust is in your best interests.
For Further Information
It is important that you include instructions for the care of your pet in your estate plan. If you have questions or need legal assistance, call a Bryan estate attorney at Peterson Law Group today: 979-703-7014 or 936-337-4681.