You likely think of pets as members of your own family but does your estate planning strategy incorporate them too? The law considers pets to be property which means that you are not able to leave anything directly in your will for your pet. A couple of different options are available to you depending on your specific goals and whether or not you have other people eligible to step forward and take care of these animals.
A caretaker enables you to pick one or two people who can act as in charge of your pet should anything happen to you.
Of course, these caretakers should always be well aware of the responsibilities. There are some organizations that might perform this service although you’ll want to do your research to verify the kinds of services provided and the cost.
Another tool you can use to let people know you have an animal or have a caretaker for that pet already is an animal card. An animal card is an item in your wallet that identifies your pet and gives information about how to contact designated caretakers. This can also be used in conjunction with a sign on your door or window that in case of an emergency announces you have a pet.
Having a card in your wallet could be helpful if you are in a vehicle accident and people don’t know who you are. Other estate planning tools allow you to add a greater layer of control and flexibility to your estate plan. These can include powers of attorney, wills and trusts.
Trusts are the most secure way to provide for your furry friends. You name a trustee that is responsible for ensuring that the pet is cared for and then fund assets into the trust to allow for the payment of that care.
For those individuals who are not sure whether or not family members will be willing to able to care for or pay for your pets, a trust with a trustee appointed can give you peace of mind that if something happens to you there is a plan in place for your beloved pet.