Do Right By Your Pet. Be careful with your Will.

Are you a pet parent? Many people consider their pets as members of their family. So it’s only natural you’d want to make sure your pet is provided for in your estate plan, so when you die or if you become incapacitated, your beloved companion won’t end up in an animal shelter or worse.

However, under the law, pets are considered personal property. So you can’t just name them as a beneficiary in your will or trust. If you do name your pet as a beneficiary in your plan, whatever money you tried to leave to it would go to your residuary beneficiary (the individual who gets everything not specifically left to your other named beneficiaries), who would have no obligation to care for your pet.

Be careful when relying on a Will

Since you can’t name your pet as a beneficiary, you might consider leaving your pet and money for its care in your will to a trusted person who would be your pet’s new caregiver. But note that your pet’s new caregiver would not be legally obligated to use the funds properly,  even if you leave them detailed instructions for your pet’s care. In fact, your pet’s new owner could legally keep all of the money for themselves and drop off your beloved friend at the local shelter.

You’d like to think that you could trust someone to take care of your pet if you leave him or her money in your will to do so. But it’s impossible to predict what circumstances might arise in the future that could make adopting your pet impossible.

Also, a will is required to go through the court process known as probate, which can last for months, leaving your pet in limbo until probate is finalized. And remember that a will only goes into effect upon your death, so if you’re incapacitated by accident or illness, it would do nothing to protect your companion.

Pet trusts offer the ideal option

Consider a pet trust in a revocable living trust in order to be completely confident that your pet is properly taken care of and the money you leave for its care is used exactly as intended.

By creating a pet trust, in a revocable living trust, you can lay out detailed, legally binding rules for how your pet’s chosen caregiver can use the funds in the trust. And unlike a will, a pet trust does not go through probate, so it goes into effect immediately and works in cases of both your incapacity and death.

Also, a  pet trust allows you to name a trustee, who is legally bound to manage the trust’s funds and ensure your wishes for the animal’s care are carried out in the manner the trust spells out. And to provide a system of checks and balances to ensure your pet’s care, you might want to name someone other than the person you name as caregiver as trustee.

In this way, you’d have two people invested in the care of your pet and seeing that the money you leave for its care is used wisely.

Do right by your pet

To ensure your pet trust is properly created and contains all of the necessary elements, meet with Myrna Serrano Setty. With Myrna’s guidance and support, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that your beloved pet will receive the kind of love and care it deserves when you’re no longer around to offer it. Contact us today to get started.

This article is a service of attorney Myrna Serrano Setty. Myrna doesn’t just draft documents, she  ensures you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That’s why Myrna offers a Planning Session, during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love.

Call us today at (813) 514-2946 to schedule a Planning Session. Mention this article to learn how to get this valuable session at no charge.

Include Your Pet in Your Estate Plan

If your pet is beloved as a family member, you likely want to ensure that he or she will be well cared for if you get very sick or die. Without explicitly stated wishes, these furry family members could end up without a home of their own, if you die or become unable to care for them. To prevent this tragic outcome, include plan for your pet in your estate plan. Here are a few important issues to consider when planning your estate with your beloved pet in mind.

Who will get your pet?

Pets are property and not people. Because of this legal distinction, an agent must be named in your estate plan to take ownership of your pet or arrange for your pet to have a loving home. Without a legally enforceable document stating your wishes, your pet could suffer the fate of many when their owners pass on: an animal shelter.

How will that person provide for your pet?

Pets require food and medical care. These costs can be significant if your pet has a health condition or is aging. Money can be set aside for your pet with specific directions about how those funds can be used and by whom.

How will your pet be cared for?

You may want to consider leaving instructions on how your pet should be cared for, as well as consider financial incentives for the person you’ve named to care for your pet to care for your pet pursuant to your wishes. This is especially important if your pet has any health conditions, is aging or is an exotic animal. Detailed instructions (and the money to carry them out) will ensure your pet’s new guardian can provide the same quality of care you provide now.

To ensure all your loved ones are cared for when you die, you need to create a comprehensive estate plan that will ensure all your wishes are carried out, even if you don’t consider yourself financially wealthy. If you are ready to take that step toward peace of mind, begin by coming in to meet with us.  Attorney Myrna Serrano Setty can help you create a comprehensive estate plan that will protect your assets, your wishes and all your loved ones, furry friends included.

Attorney Myrna Serrano Setty doesn’t just draft documents, she helps you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love.  That’s why she offers a Planning Session during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before and make the best choices for your loved ones.  Call us today to schedule a Planning Session. Mention this article to find out how to get this valuable session for free.