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How to Incorporate Pets into Your Estate Planning

April 27, 2014

The pet industry in the United States is a multi-billion dollar one. From places that specialize in breeding pets, to pet food companies, to pet health insurance, millions of dollars are spent every single day taking care of our furry little friends.

It makes sense, then, that pets should be included in estate planning. Many people see them as children, and just as a child’s future should be spelled out in as much detail as possible in an estate plan, so should a beloved pet’s.

Thankfully, there are some fairly easy things you can do to make sure your pet is well taken care of in the case where something happens to you. First and foremost is setting up a pet trust.

Pet trusts are becoming more and more common, and for a good reason. Not everyone has a large, close family that could take care of a pet for them, so more planning needs to be done. A pet trust can be especially helpful for single individuals, individuals with no relatives they feel close to, and married couples that don’t have kids.

When filling out a pet trust, it is important to do the following:

  • Name and describe your pet. Often times your pet’s caretaker will be caring for other pets as well, so providing as much detail about your pet as possible will help them keep track.

  • Accurately calculate the cost of their care. Pets can be expensive. They require food, veterinary visits, medications, operations, and many other recurring costs. Totaling all of that up and multiplying by their life expectancy will give you an estimated total, but you must also remember that just like humans, health care costs increase in later life.

  • Pick who will be in charge of providing care. This decision is fairly self-explanatory, but take it very seriously. They will need to not only provide the same level of care for your pet that you do, but they will also need to be financially responsible enough to know that all the provided money is specifically for your pet.

  • Outline what will happen with remaining money. When your pet eventually passes away, there might be money left over, and when that happens, you will need to outline what the caretaker is to do with the remaining funds.

If you go over these simple steps when planning for a pet trust, hopefully you will feel satisfied that should the worst happen, your pet will be cared for as well as possible.

If you ever have any questions or concerns regarding estate planning for humans or for pets, don’t hesitate to get in touch with a skilled attorney.