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Animals may need to be included in a basic estate plan too


Many Kent area families have animals. These cats, dogs, birds, reptiles and other species are important parts of our families. But what happens to these animals after their owner's death? It can be important to include them in an estate plan as well when planning for the future.

For many families their pet is an important member of their family and a loyal companion. These pets are beloved companions for all ages, but can needlessly suffer if their owner passes away. If a family owns a pet they may want to include them in an estate plan. Many people don't think about what will happen to their pet if their pet outlives them. Often the pet will be abandoned at a local animal shelter. In order to avoid that scenario a plan needs to be put in place.

First, a pet owner should find a good caregiver that is willing to take their pets at the time of their death. Getting the commitment in writing is also a good idea and listing backup caregivers can also be a wise move. A fund can be set up to provide for the pet's needs. A trustee can be appointed for a life insurance policy or bank account to be used for pet expenses. A trust can also be established where the caregiver receives money to pay for the animal's expenses and the trustee may regularly inspect the pet to make sure it is being adequately cared for.

A legal professional skilled in estate planning can help a family make sure their pets will be taken care of in case they outlive their owners. An attorney has the experience necessary to craft the documents and ensure that everyone in the family will be taken care of.

Source: humanesociety.org, "Estate planning experts urge pet owners to prepare for the possibility that their animal companions may outlive them", James Hettinger, June 20, 2013

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