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Can you include a pet in your estate plan?

On Behalf of | May 24, 2018 | Estate Planning |

When people in Parsippany think of their heirs and beneficiaries, they may think of their spouses, children, grandchildren and other loved ones. Therefore, they may execute a will or trust to ensure their loved ones are provided for upon their death. However, what about the other important members of their families — their pets? A person’s dog, cat or other pet also needs to be provided for after its owner dies. Fortunately, there are steps a person can take to ensure their animal companions are taken care of if they outlive their owners.

One option is for the pet owner to execute a revocable living trust. While a person cannot directly leave money to the pet itself, in this document, a person can include language that will let the trustee use the trust funds to pay for the pet’s care. This document can also include provisions regarding who the pet owner wants to take care of their pet if their pet outlives them. In a revocable living trust, a person can also leave money to the person chosen to care for the pet that is earmarked for the pet’s care. Keep in mind that if a person decides to go this route, they may want discuss the matter with the person they’ve selected to care for their pet, to ensure that person is willing and able to do so.

If a person decides not to execute a revocable living trust, another option may be simply writing a letter to their loved ones explaining how the person wants their pet taken care of if their pet outlives them. Unlike a trust, a letter is not necessarily legally binding. However, it can still provide a person’s survivors with important information about what their deceased loved one’s wishes are concerning his or her pets.

In the end, a person has estate planning options for deciding how to provide for their beloved pets should their pets outlive them. Pet owners should make sure they understand what these options can and cannot do for their pets. With the right information at hand, a pet owner can make choices that will benefit their pet and meet their wishes.