Having an animal companion is heartwarming, fun — and sometimes demanding. When we bring pets into our lives, we don’t always think about what happens to our pets if anything were to happen to us. Keep your pets in mind when you’re making a will and considering related estate or financial planning. Unlike us, pets can’t plan ahead, say whom they want to live with, pay for their own needs, or determine their care and treatment. As TIAA, the retirement and financial planning organization has recommended, “When getting your estate plan ducks in a row, make one of those ducks your pet.”
Like family members, pets can develop health issues, which can be expensive; even routine veterinary care can be costly. And like family members, pets may need someone to step in if something happens to you.
Leaving money for animal care in your estate plan through the creation of a pet trust or fund is very important.
You can consult with your attorney regarding the proper way to establish a pet trust. These trusts are usually revocable — which means you can make changes as needed.
A trust or fund for your pet(s) should include:
- A designated beneficiary (make sure whoever you choose agrees to this before you put their name down); the fund usually makes regular payments to the caregiver for the rest of the pet’s life, with a maximum of 21 years in some states
- An assigned trustee (some people are willing to care for an animal but won’t want the financial responsibility of managing the trust)
- A description of your pet and its needs, especially if there are any medical issues; food preferences, whether it’s an indoor or outdoor animal, etc.
- Name and contact information for your veterinarian
- Pet insurance information, if you have that in place
- Preferences for your pet’s medical treatment and end-of-life options
To ensure the safety and care of your pet, take the proactive steps to have a pet trust crafted.
We’re here to help if you have any questions.