Pet owners in California understand that their four-legged friends are more than just animals — they are family. For how much love most people shower on their beloved pets, many fail to adequately prepare for their future care. A comprehensive estate plan can provide necessary instructions and finances for a pet after his or her owner has passed away.
Pet trusts are one of the most common ways that individuals incorporate their pets into their estate plans. Like other trusts, a trustee who will oversee how the funds are distributed and invested must be named. This is usually not the same person who will actually be taking ownership of the pet.
The pet trust should contain a few important things. Both the trustee and owner should have access to a pet budget that includes the expected cost of food, regular vet visits and other basics. The animal’s medical history should also be included, and many owners also choose to include favorite toys and other pet-specific quirks to help with the transition to a new owner. In some cases, owners also leave some funds to the person taking ownership of the animal.
Having a verbal agreement about who will take care of an animal after the owner has passed might seem like enough, but this provides no legal security for the pet. A person might have the best intentions to take the pet, but discover that they do not have the financial stability to do so or that they have simply changed their mind. California pet owners can best protected their beloved animals by including them in their estate plan.
Source: wilmingtonbiz.com, “What About Bam (Or Fido)?“, Susan Willett, Oct. 16, 2017