If you own a dog, a cat, or some other type of pet, chances are good that you consider your pet to be part of the family. You undoubtedly go to great lengths to make sure your pet is up to date on his/her vaccinations, sees a veterinarian regularly, and is comfortable and cared for on a daily basis. Have you included your pet in your estate plan though? Many people who spend a good deal of time and money on their pets never think to include their pet when they sit down to create an estate plan. Often, this is because they didn’t know it was possible to include pets in an estate plan. Just as you include children, charities, and other beneficiaries in an estate plan, you can include pets as well. Now that you know it’s possible to include your pets in your estate plan, you need to know how. If you live in Long Island, talk to your Long Island estate planning attorney about the best way to protect your pets in your estate plan.
Why Pet Planning Is Important
There is no doubt that in America, we love animals. More precisely, we love to include animals as part of the family. Although ranching and farming is still very much alive in some parts of the U.S., the vast majority of households in the U.S. include animals as pets, not as livestock or working animals. In fact, over half of all households in the U.S. include at least one dog and almost as many have a cat as a pet. If you are among the households with a pet, have you ever considered what will happen to your pet if you suddenly become incapacitated or die? Who will take care of your beloved pet? Where will the funds come from to care for your pet? Pet planning answers these questions – and more—and provides you with peace of mind knowing your pet will be well cared for in the event something happens to you that prevents you from caring for your pets.
Pet Planning Options that Don’t Always Work
People often rely on nothing more than a vague promise from a family member or close friend to care for your pet should the need arise. In the absence of a pet planning component in your overall estate plan, however, a promise is rather hollow. A number of things could occur that will prevent that promise from being fulfilled, even if the individual making the promise had the best of intentions at the time. For example, your intended caregiver could die or suffer an incapacitating accident or illness in the interim. He or she could also move away to somewhere where taking your pet is not possible. Other family members might even object to your designated caretaker taking your pet, causing a family squabble that has no realistic way of being settled without a costly court battle. Finally, your intended caretaker might not have the funds to care for your pet, even if he/she is willing to do so.
Another option that often falls short of working as planned is including your pet in your Last Will and Testament. “Gifting” your pet in your Will does solve the problem of who you intended to care for your pet. It also provides the ability to also gift funds for your pet’s care; however, the other problems mentioned above remain problems when using this method as well.
Creating a Pet Trust
The best way to be sure your pet is well cared for after you re gone is to create a pet trust. Your Long Island estate planning attorney can help you create a pet trust which will allow you to appoint a Trustee to oversee the administration of the trust. You are also able to create your own trust terms that can be as specific, or as general, as you wish with regard to your pet’s care and maintenance. Knowing you have established a pet trust for your family pets ensures that your pets will be cared for the same way you care for them now, even after you are gone.
For more information, please join us for an upcoming free seminar. If you have additional questions or concerns regarding how to include your pets in your estate plan, contact the experienced Long Island, New York estate planning attorneys at the Law Offices of Kobrick & Moccia by calling 800-295-1917 to schedule your appointment.