Pet Estate Planning
Do you want to leave something in your will for your pet? Many of us have a dog, cat, or other pet that has been a part of our family for years. You consider them as important as any other member of your family. Because pets cannot own property, they cannot inherit from you in a will. However, you can create an estate plan that includes provisions to ensure your pet is well taken care of after your death.
Pet Planning Options
There are usually two main concerns when it comes to leaving your pets behind: who will care for your pet and how can you ensure that person has the resources to provide that care. Options for pet planning range from informal arrangements to complex trusts. There are also several private organizations that provide continuing care for pets after an owner’s death.
The important thing is to choose an individual or organization you feel you can rely on. In the case of an individual, you should be confident that the person is willing to take on the responsibility of caring for your pet. Either way, you need to discuss your wishes for your pet’s future care openly and establish how the expenses will be met.
Incorporating provisions in your will
As pets cannot own property, you don’t have the option of leaving them money in your will. However, you can leave your pet to someone’s care, along with the money to provide that care. This type of provision in your will is more informal. In reality, your pet will legally belong to the person you name, but that person will have no legal obligation to actually care for the pet or use the money solely for that purpose. For this reason, if you state your desires in a will, you need to be sure to choose someone you trust and to discuss your wishes ahead of time.
Creating a Pet Trust
There is another more formal option, but it is more complex and sometimes more expensive than adding provisions to your will. With a pet trust, you can leave your pet, along with money, to a person you designate, while creating a legal obligation for that person to provide care for your pet. Because of the legal obligation, if the caretaker you choose does not follow your instructions, he or she can be held legally responsible for violating the terms of the trust.
A pet trust generally contains terms that identify the pet(s) to be cared for, the name of the intended caretaker, the amount of money to be used to provide care, and instructions on what to do in the event there are funds remaining when the pet passes away. You can also include instructions in the event you become unable to care for your pet before your death, for any reason.
What will happen to my pet if I don’t have a plan?
When it comes to your estate, your pet is considered part of your property. So, what happens to your pet depends on whether or not you have a will or living trust. If you have a will, but you have not designated anyone in particular to take care of your pet, it will go to your residuary beneficiary. That is the person who gets the remainder of your estate after all other gifts have been made. If you did not have a will or living trust, then your pet will be distributed along with all of your other property, according to the laws of intestate succession in your state.
Reno, Nevada Pet Planning Legal Help and Guidance
If you have questions regarding Reno, Nevada pet planning, or any other estate planning needs, please contact Anderson, Dorn & Rader, Ltd., either online or by calling us at (775) 823-9455.