Attorney & Mediator
Attorney & Mediator

Estate Planning and Pets – How to care when you are not there

What about your pets?  Who will care when you’re not there?

To some, the issue of pets seems at best foolish when we are discussing the serious topic of estate planning.  To those that are pet owners and animal lovers – it is not foolish – it is important.  Many love their pets as much as they care for their relatives (often more).

Often, as we grow older and our families have moved away, our pets become our family – giving us love and companionship.  They are vulnerable and will need care when we are unable to be there to care for them.

First, not everyone is willing to adopt our cat or dog after we have passed away.  You cannot count on your children to automatically bring the pet into his or her home.  As with many issues in the estate planning process, it is important to discuss this matter with your family members.

Ask today whether they would be able and willing to care for your dog or cat in the event that you were unable to do so yourself.  You may find that it is a family friend that is able to take on the responsibility of caring for your beloved pet for the rest of its life.  This is not the type of responsibility that someone should be surprised with.

Next, you may want to consider setting aside some money for the care of your pet.  You may want to give the money as a direct bequest (gift) in your Will to the individual that will be caring for your pet.  Alternatively, you may leave a sum in your trust that can be administered by your trustee for the ongoing care of your pet.  Some people simply designate an account or a certificate of deposit for that person, making the account payable on death to the care giver.

Why set aside money?  Taking care of a pet responsibly means veterinary bills, medications, food, toys, and possibly kennel fees during vacation times.   It is only appropriate to consider this when asking for another’s kindness in caring for your pet.

By taking care of this detail today, you will feel a sense of relief knowing that while your friend and companion will miss you, he or she will be well cared for.