Legal Help and Starting a New Business

« Back to Home

Protecting Your Pet: Estate Planning Questions For Four Pawed Possessions

Posted on

After their owner's passing, many pets end up in shelters because there is simply no one to take care of them. The only way to protect your beloved animal from a less than optimal fate is by creating a comprehensive estate plan that includes them. Like it or not, an animal is generally considered to be property, and that means they will end up being dealt with as part of your estate before your passing. Before you meet with your estate planning attorney, you might want to ask yourself a few questions.

Do I Have a Designated Caretaker?

Not only should you have a caretaker designated for your pet, but you should update caretakers frequently and have one or two alternates. Consider this: you could set your sister as your Golden Retriever's caretaker and be fine for a couple of years. But after she has a baby, she may not have the time (or space) to devote to a large dog. You'll need to check in with her and find a backup plan. 

Should I Start a Trust for My Pet?

Pets cost money -- especially in relation to vet bills. Your friend or family member may be absolutely fine with taking care of your pet after passing, but do they have enough money to do so? They may not even understand the costs involved if they've never had a pet themselves. Starting a trust will make sure that there's money available for your pet as long as it needs it. 

Does My Pet Have Special Concerns?

The passing of a loved one can be a hectic time. If you pass on unexpectedly, as grim as that thought may be, there may be no one around who remembers who your dog's vet is or that your cat is diabetic and requires insulin. If your pet has any special medical issues, such as allergies and medication, they absolutely need to be listed in your estate plan. The estate plan should also include information such as when your pet's last shots were and which veterinarian your pet normally sees. 

Your estate planning attorney will be able to give you information regarding the legal issues involved in inheriting a living animal and the implications of your decisions -- your job is simply to decide what's best for your pet. But remember that an estate plan is only useful if it is followed, and that means discussing it with your friends and family and making sure they know that your estate attorney is their first point of contact. To find our more about estate planning, contact someone like Stuart W. Moskowitz, Esq., CPA.