If you have a pet that you consider part of the family you may wish to include pet planning in your overall estate plan. Contrary to what many people think, pet planning is not just for the rich and famous who leave small fortunes to a favored dog or cat when they die. In fact, the average estate plan should include a pet planning component if a pet is included in the family. Once you have a better understanding of why pet planning is needed you will likely take steps to incorporate a pet plan into your comprehensive estate plan.
One of the objectives in your estate plan is likely to ensure that family members and loved ones are protected and provided for in the event or your death or incapacity. Pet planning accomplishes those same objectives for your pets. Sadly, about half a million dogs and cats are left homeless each year in the United States because something happens to their human caretaker and they are overlooked, forgotten, or outright abandoned. If you do not want your pet to be one of them, you need to plan ahead.
Pet planning allows you to decide ahead of time who will take over the care and maintenance of your beloved pet. More importantly, it also allows you to create the legal framework by which ownership of your pet can be passed on to the intended caretaker. Although you may not consider your pet to be a possession, the law does. Therefore, you need to arrange for the transfer of ownership of your pet to the new owner. In addition, you may wish to provide funds to be used for the care and maintenance of your pet. Pet planning can also accomplish this important goal. Finally, a well drafted pet plan can even ensure that your pet will be cared for in the same manner in which he/she is cared for by you if you choose to create a pet trust as part of your pet plan.
A pet trust is the most common pet planning component because it allows you to do everything necessary to ensure that your pet is safe and well cared for in the event of your death or incapacity. You can appoint a Trustee to administer the trust and ensure that the trust terms are obeyed. Those terms can be used to ensure your pet is cared for in the way you wish. For example, your trust terms could require a specific vet to be used to care for your pet or even call for the caretaker to only feed your pet a specific type of food. Finally, you can transfer adequate assets into the trust to cover expenses for your pet so that he/she will continue to be cared for in the manner you care for him/her long after you are gone or unable to provide that care yourself.
If you have additional questions or concerns about pet planning or estate planning in general, contact the experienced New York estate planning attorneys at The Law Offices of Saul Kobrick, P.C. by calling 800-295-1917 to schedule your appointment.
To learn more, please download our free family pet in your estate plan in New York here.
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