Be advised, this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion. Always seek the advice of legal counsel prior to making estate planning decisions.
According to the NY Daily News, thousands of animals end up in shelters and many euthanized because their owners died without making arrangements for their future care. Often, family and friends are unwilling or simply financially unable to care for pet after the passing of a friend or family member. This presents an uncertain future for pet owners and their beloved pets.
What is a pet owner to do? A great way to ensure that Fido is properly taken care of is to address the matter in your Will. You can bequest an amount for your pet to a family member or friend on the condition that the funds are used to care for the pet. For example, your Will can state, “I give $2,000.00 to my brother Jim on the condition that the funds are used for the care and well being of my dog Fido.” Considering that your brother Jim is taking care of Fido after your death, it’s only fair that you help relieve some of the financial burden. Now, there is one caveat to this bequest. Under most state laws, your brother Jim is under no obligation to use the money for the care of Fido once it is received. You have to have some trust in your brother Jim.
What do you do if you do not trust your brother Jim? You can set up a trust for the benefit of your pet. The drawback is that it will be more expensive (as opposed to simply adding a provision to your Will) and a bit more of a hassle for the person caring for your pet. The benefit is that there will be a certain level of guarantee that your pet will be financially provided for after death as the Trustee (person holding the money for the benefit of your pet) will have oversight over the use of the funds; provided the Trustee is not the person caring for your pet.
We provide for all of our pets basic needs when we are alive. It is an important obligation we undertake when we decide to become pet owners. Do not forget about addressing this obligation when speaking with your attorney about planning for after your death.
Jeffrey R. Caffee