In an article entitled “The Importance of an Estate Plan” drafted earlier this year, we discussed the benefits of future planning as it relates to persons of all income brackets. A general background was presented providing the readers an opportunity to understand the importance of an estate plan, and more specifically the advantages of a Trust, powers of attorney, and/or living wills to ensure that a person’s current desires would be followed through at a time when they could not make decisions for themselves, or upon their death. As a follow up to The Importance of an Estate Plan, this article will discuss a rarely used, but important subset of estate planning for clients who want to provide for their beloved pets in addition to their family members.
Unsurprisingly, most people consider their pets as an important part of their family. The purpose of an estate plan is to ensure that one’s property is cared for and distributed as the Grantor desires. Likewise, the purpose of creating enforceable documents regarding one’s pets is to ensure that they are properly cared for and placed in a loving home for the remainder of their lifetimes.
With this idea in mind, a Grantor can ensure their pets are provided for when they are unable to care for their pets themselves. Such provisions in an estate plan can be as simple or elaborate as one desires. A client may merely designate who will take custody of the family pets, or may choose to provide a comprehensive plan for who will care for the pets, including providing funds for their care, and donating any residual funds to various shelters in their pet’s name upon their passing. Certainly, a Grantor can leave their estate to whomever they decide, including their pets, and such provisions will be followed just as any other distribution or request contained in an individual’s Trust or estate plan.
Whether you already have an established trust that does not provide for your animals, or if you are planning on establishing a family trust and wish to include provisions for your animals, it is important that you discuss these and other estate planning issues with competent legal counsel. Be sure to that your wishes are known in advance whatever they may be. At Allison MacKenzie, Ltd., our attorneys are available to discuss these estate planning issues with you whether you already have an established trust that does not provide for your animals, or if you are planning on establishing a family trust and wish to include provisions for your animals.