It should come as no surprise to anyone that Americans have a love affair with their pets. Many owners consider their pets members of their family. So how do we provide for our pets if they outlive us?
Dogs and cats can live for 20 years, horses for 30 years and parrots, an astonishing 70 years. Given these statistics and the fact that dog owners alone represent 70% of the population, failure to plan for our companion animals would be an unfortunate oversight.
Pets tend to have a firm and well-established role within the family. Sometimes, they have full membership. In the eyes of the law, however, pets enjoy a far lesser standing. This need not make planning for the care of your pets difficult after you’re gone however. While you can’t leave an “inheritance” to a pet, when including a “pet trust” as part of your estate plan you can provide for their care when you’re not there to provide it yourself. You don't have to be Leona Helmsley to set up an effective planning as part of your estate plan.
Setting up a trust doesn’t need to be difficult, however, it does take some preparation and foresight to keep it running efficiently when needed. In fact, pet trusts can be useful little devices for a common problem, especially amongst elderly pet lovers. A recent article in the Naples Daily News considers a pet trust an estate planning basic. The article, titled “Pet Trusts Gaining Popularity” offers some practical pointers to consider.
Pets are family members to some, but to the law they are just another form of property. Nonetheless, this living, breathing “property” sometimes outlives its master and this fact of life is worthy of proper legal attention. What happens when there isn’t a family member or friend to step up and take the animal? What if there is a potential caretaker, but that person simply cannot afford to care for your pet? By establishing a pet trust as part of your estate plan, you can set aside funds exclusively for the care of your pet, the caretaker and your own peace of mind.
You’ll want an experience estate planning attorney to create a pet trust as part of your estate plan. You can learn more about this topic as well as other strategies on our website under the tab entitled: estate planning in Virginia. Be sure you also sign up for our complimentary e-newsletter so that you may be informed of all the latest issues that could affect you, your loved ones and your estate planning. However, proper estate planning is not a do-it-yourself project. Why not call us for a complimentary consultation at 757-259-0707.
Reference: Naples Daily News (August 17, 2015) “Pet Trusts Gaining Popularity”