Pets are considered personal property under the law, but in our hearts they are so much more. They are not fungible assets, like cash, that can be easily divided amongst our heirs when we pass. They each have their own special needs and wants. If you are working on your estate planning, and you have pets, don’t forget to include them in your plan. To whom would you like them to go, if something were to happen to you? You can make a specific bequest in your Last Will and Testament to make sure the Executor of your estate knows who should be your pets’ new guardian. Make sure someone has access to your pet if something were to happen to you suddenly. Does the Executor of your Will or the future guardian of your pet have keys to your house?
Depending on your means, your pets’ new guardian’s means, and the needs of your pet, you can even go so far as to set up a trust to hold some of your assets to be used for the care of your pet, if you feel it is in the best interest of your pet and your pet’s future guardian.
Think about who you would like to care for your pet or pets after you are gone, and talk to that person. Then incorporate your plan for care of your pet into your estate plan.
-Morgan Jones, Esquire (Decato Law Office)