Pet owners of any age worry about their beloved companions should one become unable to care for a pet. Estate planning for pets is worth consideration as there are the different ways to protect your pet upon your death or disablement. Including your pet in estate planning is crucial to protect your beloved family member. While we consider our pets a family member it is important to remember that pets are considered property under the law.
Should You Put A Pet In A Will?
Alternatives continue to expand with different ways to protect your pet. To ensure your pet is cared for according to your wishes, all commitments should be obtained in writing along with the consent of the potential caregiver and pet owner. The ASCPA provides a pet trust primer for pet estates as an alternative method to protect your pet.
Estate Planning For Pets – Pet Protection Options
Options include and as always an estate planning attorney should be consulted when drafting pet estates.
- Letter or formal agreement specifying your instructions with your signature and the signature of the guardian.
- Update your power of attorney to reflect the name of the pets’ guardian (s) and designate any funds that may be used for the pets’ care while disabled.
- Create a Pet Protection Agreement
- Designate funds in a will for the pets’ caretaker and a letter of intent as to how the monies should be used. Again some states prohibit bequests with instructions.
Estate attorneys recommend monies should not be left directly to the pet. A pet trust should be considered with an executor; however state laws do vary and it would be wise to consult your estate attorney to draft a plan which satisfies your wishes and is legally enforceable in your state. The executor of the trust and the caretaker of the pet may or may not be the same person. Minnesota currently prohibit pet trusts. The American Bar Association addresses estate planning for your pets; always check current state laws to ensure your planning is up to date. The ASCPA provides a list of pet trust laws per state.
Another document to include which would be helpful to your pets’ caretaker is the medical history and preferences of the pet. It is not unusual for elderly pets to be on multiple medications and dietary restrictions. A medication schedule, food schedule and preferences and contact information for the vet, caretaker or pet sitter is very beneficial to ease a temporary or permanent relocation. Habits and routines are very important with a pet and keeping to the routine benefits their medical and mental health particularly in a time of challenge.
It is also important is to inform your loved ones of your intentions should you need a caretaker for a pet whether temporarily or permanently. Include your pets on your checklist for estate planning. Inform multiple people and leave in writing where the documents and medical history is located so they are easily obtainable in an emergency. If a password is necessary to obtain digital documents ensure a trusted individual has access to necessary logins and passwords.