There is a good chance that you have an estate plan to ensure that your loved ones are taken care of when you are away. But have you thought about what will happen to your pet?
Pets have a place in our hearts and homes, but according to the law, pets are generally regarded as tangible personal property, not unlike a car or furniture. Given that some breeds of cats and dogs live in their twenties and some species of birds, such as parrots, macaws and cockatoos, can turn 40-60 + years old, there is no guarantee that you will survive your pet. That is why it is vital to have a good plan.
Setting the Stage
First, determine who will take care of your pet. This must be someone you know well and trust to fulfill your wishes. Talk to that person and make sure they agree to take responsibility for your pet. Alternatively, some local or national charity or humane organizations will take care of your pet after you pass. It helps if you make a donation to cover the costs of that care. Check their policies to learn how to place pets and how long they will accommodate them before they make a permanent placement.
Next set out your wishes in writing.
What are the options?
Testaments, memoranda and Pet Trusts are the most common methods. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages.
Letter / Memorandum (Separated from a Testament) – Some states allow individuals a binding create a letter (or memorandum) that makes their tangible property available to specific individuals when they succeed if the document is signed by them.This can be a good option if, for example, you have to undergo surgery or travel and want something quickly written your pet will be protected in the event of something unexpected. From a legal point of view, this memorandum will be considered unrelated to any will. Memoranda are not valid in every state, so it is best to consult local lawyer.
Pet Trust – A Pet Trust identifies your pet by name, appoints a caregiver, appoints a manager to manage set money aside, and dictates the kind of care your pet receives if you are gone. The Trustee is responsible for the money and has the legal responsibility to ensure that the caretaker uses the money as ordered by the Trust, including food, veterinary care, routine medication and supplements and other recurring costs during the life of your pet. The pet will live with the caretaker who will take care of their daily needs. There may still be money left in confidence after the pet has passed; a residual beneficiary should therefore be mentioned.
Animal confidence is only meant to cover the costs of caring for your animal. Some states allow interested parties to reduce the amount of money that is kept for the care of a pet if a court finds the trust over-financed, so it is best to clearly document your cost assumptions.
Remember that the most important thing is that you plan and implement. A professional in estate planning can help you with the specific details. Go to www.naepc.org to find an approved estate planner in your area. You will be comfortable knowing that your beloved pet is in good hands.
Note for Senior Planet members: if you have a companion animal and a photo that you want to share, include it in the comments!  Additional resources for estate planning for pets:
https://animalleague.planmylegacy.org/safe – harbor-surviving-pet-care program
Tracy Craig is a partner and chairman of Mirick O & # 39; Connell & # 39; s Trusts and Estates Group. She works with individuals in all areas of property and gift tax planning. She specializes in asset management, matrimonial conditions, custody and conservatories and all aspects of charity planning. She serves in various fiduciary capacities, including trustee, curator and personal representative. She also works with clients on issues that elderly people face.
Tracy is a fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel and an AEP®.
Photo by Steffen Kastner on Unsplash