Estate planning should consider needs of pets

Having a pet brings many people joy and provides them with a living creature to take care of and to provide companionship. Unfortunately, pets are often overlooked in people’s plans for incapacity or death.

The types of animals that one has as well of the needs of those animals should be considered carefully when preparing a last will and testament or trust. The responsibility of caring for a small indoor pet is very different from that of a large barnyard animal.

When considering a potential caregiver for your animals, you’ll want to make sure this person has the desire, ability, and available space to take good care of your pets. Also consider the other people who live in their home, taking into account their like or dislike of animals and if anyone in the house may be allergic to the types of pets you have. Also, does this person already have other animals? Someone who already has pets may have a better idea of the time and money needed to take care of your animals, but it may be more difficult for everyone to adjust in this case.

You can include specific instructions for your pets in your last will and testament or a trust. It may be a good idea to use broad language, instead of naming specific pets, to leave instructions for any pets you may have at your time of death. You may also want to leave different instructions for different categories of pets, such as giving small house pets to one person and large, outdoor animals to another person.

Make sure to factor the cost of the care of your pets into your plan, and keep in mind that their care often costs more as your pets grow older. You can leave money for your pet’s care in a few different ways. You could simply leave an outright gift to the person who will be caring for your pets, although there is no guarantee that the money would be reserved for the purpose of continuing to care for your animals. Even someone with good intentions may spend the money and then realize later on that they can’t afford to keep taking care of your pets.

Another option is to set up a simple pet trust within your will or trust. The funds in this trust could be used only for the care of pets, and upon the last pet’s death, the trust would close and pay out to whoever you choose. This pet trust would probably be a simple bank account.

It is important to plan for your pet’s future intentionally and carefully so that they may have the best care possible should something happen to you during their lifetime.

For help creating or updating 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.