Why would a senior citizen want to get a pet so late in life?
This is a good question, because there are responsibilities that go along with pet ownership. However, in some instances, a fine furry friend can make a huge positive difference in the lives of seniors.
An elder can feel a sense of loneliness after losing their spouse, other relatives, and friends. There is no substitute for these losses, but a dog or a cat can certainly provide some much-needed companionship.
In addition to the four-legged friend factor, there are other positives. A senior citizen can feel a renewed sense of purpose when they have to care for a pet, and this can be invaluable. Dogs need to go out for walks, and this can give an older pet owner a reason to get more exercise.
The trips to the park or the dog park can also be a way of socializing with other people. In addition to the physical benefits of exercise, researchers have found that pet ownership can improve mental health as well.
That makes sense, but from an estate planning perspective, can you leave someone a pet in your will?
Yes, you can legally do this, because the pet would be looked upon as your property. Of course, you don’t want to surprise anyone with a canine or feline bequest. If you want to go this route, you should be sure that the person that you have in mind is willing to care for the animal.
From a financial perspective, you could leave this individual a direct bequest with the understanding that the money will be used to care for the pet in certain ways.
However, at the end of the day, the human inheritor would own the pet and the money. There would be nothing stopping this person doing whatever they want to do with either.
Another thing to think about when it comes to this approach to pet planning is the amount of money that is bequeathed to the caretaker. If the pet dies shortly after you do, the caretaker would be in possession of assets that you could have transferred to someone else.
Is there a better pet planning solution?
Many would say that a pet trust would be a far better idea. If you establish and fund this type of trust for the benefit of your pet, you would name a trustee to act as the administrator.
In the trust declaration, you could leave detailed instructions about the way that you want the pet be cared for, and the trustee would be legally compelled to follow them. It should be noted that the trustee does not necessarily have to be the individual that will act as the pet’s caretaker.
When it comes to assets that may be left in the trust after the pet passes away, there is a very simple solution. You can name a successor beneficiary when you establish the trust, and this individual or entity would assume ownership of the remainder.
Schedule a Pet Planning Consultation!
We are here to help if you are interested in establishing a pet trust, and of course, we can counsel you about any other estate planning matter. Personalized attention is key, because every situation is different, and this is exactly what you receive when you choose our firm.
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