Estate Planning for Your Furry Friends (Part 1)

Often, pet owners consider their pets to not just be their most valuable possessions but to be members of their family. Those who own pets want to do all they can to care for their animals, so it is important to consider what may happen if your pet outlives you and to have a plan in place for this possibility. Here are some options for your estate plan to make sure your pet will be well cared for in the event that you pass away:

Animals in the Eyes of Law

Animals are considered personal property – like a car, jewelry, and other material possessions – under the law. If the person who owns a pet does not have an estate plan, their pet will be distributed to their “heirs-at-law” or to the people who are their closest living relatives according to a genealogical chart. If this person does have an estate plan, their pet will still be distributed to the individual set to inherit their personal property unless there is a specific provision regarding their pet in the estate plan. In cases where beneficiaries or heirs of someone’s estate do not wish to take care of the pet, people often end up surrendering the pet to a shelter.

Options for Your Estate Plan

There are different options for including care for your pet as part of your estate plan. One option is to make a specific bequest for your pet to someone you have chosen to care for them, and this can be done in a will or trust. You may also choose to leave some funds to the person who will care for your pet to help cover the cost.

Another option to consider is establishing a pet trust. In the next post, I will share more about pet trusts specifically.

Your estate planning attorney can help you when it comes to decisions to make sure your pet will be cared for as well as possible if you pass away before your pet.

For help with your estate plan, contact us at Wilson and Wilson Estate Planning and Elder Law, LLC at 708 482 7090 for our main office in LaGrange, Illinois or at 847 656 8958 for our Northbrook, Illinois office.