While your pets may be considered your best friends or family, in the eyes of the law, they are considered property. This means that when you die, your pet will be treated as any other property you own and could end up in a shelter. Therefore, it's important to have a plan for your pet in place in case you die first. Here are some things you should know about providing for your pet in your will and creating a trust.
Putting Your Pet in Your Will
Putting your pet in your will is a good idea, but it has a lot of limitations. Because pets are considered property, you cannot leave money or material goods in its name. Instead, you have to designate a beneficiary who will be getting the pet as property. You can leave money to the beneficiary for your pet's care, but the beneficiary is under no obligation to spend it on your pet. It's extremely important to talk to a possible beneficiary on this subject before making out your will.
Creating a Trust For Your Pet
Creating a trust for your pet is an excellent way to make sure that there is money and legally enforceable instructions to care for your pet. You can designate a guardian and a trust protector to make sure the money is being used for your pet's care. If the guardian fails to care for the pet, he or she can be sued. You can also stipulate what to do if any money is left over after the pet dies.
Leaving Your Pet to an Organization
Another option is to leave your pet to an organization who specializes in the type of pet you own. Like creating a trust, you will provide instructions on what the money is to be used for and specific aspects of the pet's care. If the organization you leave your pet to also does adoptions, there can be instructions on that in your documents as well. The organization could also be a beneficiary of the remaining money after your pet dies.
If you and your pet are close, then it's important that you spell everything out as to what happens to him or her when you die. You can do this in writing or arrange something with verbal consent. However, verbal consent may be insufficient if there is a problem. Leaving your wishes in writing with the right types of documents will ensure that your pet gets the treatment you hope for. If you want to include your pet and his or her care in your estate, talk to an estate planning attorney at a law firm like Barrett Twomey Broom Hughes & Hoke LLP for help with arranging the right paperwork.