For many of us, we consider our pets to be part of our family. Yet, oftentimes, pets are not considered when we make our estate plans. In many state pets are considered property and in the absence of a document directing their disposition, pets pass to your heirs. This is frequently not the option that pet owners prefer and, with a little bit of planning, you can take steps to ensure that your pet will be taken care of in the event of your disability or death.
One of the simplest planning options is to name a designated pet caretaker in your Will. Most individuals that choose this option leave a specific amount of money to the designated caretaker. The primary advantages of this option are its simplicity and cost effectiveness. There are many disadvantages however, including the fact that the individual named may be unable or unwilling to take the pet, the individual may take the pet and then use the funds given for other purposes, there is no guarantee that your wishes will be carried out, and there is no guarantee that the amount of money left to the caregiver will be enough to care for the pet over its lifetime.
Another option is to create a pet trust in your Will. This is also a simple option, but it likely requires that an attorney to draft the document to ensure that it complies with state law. A primary consideration with the drafting of a pet trust is to leave enough money in the trust for the lifetime care of your pets