If you have a pet, he or she probably feels like part of your family. So it makes sense to take care of your pet if you become incapacitated or pass away. Because if you don’t make any plans, your beloved companion could end up in an animal shelter or worse.
The law looks at pets as personal property. So you can’t just name your pet as a beneficiary of your will or trust without some careful planning.
Be careful with your 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 your pet’s new caregiver would not be legally required use the funds properly. 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 has to go through the court process known as probate, which can last for months. That can leave your pet in limbo for a while. 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.
Consider a pet trust.
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.
This way, 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. That trustee is legally required to manage the trust’s funds and carry out your wishes. 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.
Do right by your pet.
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.