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Can Your Estate Plan Include Your Pet?

Nov. 30, 2018

A pet can be one of the most important members of your family. As such, it is important to make the necessary preparations for your pet in the event of your death.

While you can account for pets in your will, a will does not always ensure your pet’s new caretaker will follow your wishes. To guarantee your pet will receive the care you intended, you might want to create a pet trust.

Generally, the purpose of a will is to distribute property. Pets are considered property under the law, and courts will typically distribute them like any other personal asset. While you can name who your pet will go to in a will, it is difficult to make sure a caretaker will carry out your instructions. A pet trust, on the other hand, will ensure a trustee has the legal obligation to follow the care and instructions you provided.

In a pet trust, a trustee will manage the funds for your pet and supervise that the pet’s new caregiver follows your wishes. Typically, a trustee will disperse funds to the caregiver on a set schedule. Caregivers can use these funds to pay for food, medical care, boarding and other necessities your pet requires.

Establishing a trust for your pet can also include wishes for your pet’s end of life care. For instance, you can draft information pertaining to medical care, the decision to put your pet down and any cremation or burial wishes. When a pet trust, it is also important to account for what will happen to any remaining funds in the trust after your pet passes away.

Before creating your pet trust, you should discuss your decision with any future trustees and caregivers. Consider speaking with an experienced estate planning attorney if you think a pet trust is the right fit for you.