Often, pets are not included in estate plans. To ensure ongoing and proper care, consider addressing your pets' needs along with other loved ones.
Pet food, vet checkups and procedures can add up very quickly. Why should your pets' caretaker pay out of pocket or from their inheritance to care for your pets when other beneficiaries aren't helping with the costs?
If you have young children, pets are often a vital link to the family. Ensuring good care for the pets can help ease grief experienced by children who are now without their parents.
A few simple steps can avoid added grief for your family and pets. Talk to family and friends to see who would enjoy caring for your pets.
If you are naming guardians for minor children, talk to them about also taking your pets to ease the transition for the children.
Pets cannot be named beneficiaries of money or property from your estate. So, what are your options?
While a will often lacks the structure to provide for adequate care, a properly written living trust can be an ideal planning tool.
A trust can designate someone to care for your pet, name someone to distribute money to the pet's caretaker and stipulate charitable contributions to animal shelters.
If your pets' caretaker is not a successor trustee, you will have a system of checks-and-balance. The caretaker keeps receipts and every few months gives them to the Successor Trustee to be reimbursed.
Determine an amount to set aside depending on the type and number of pets. A small sum of $5,000 - $10,000 should cover a pet or two, while animals such as horses require larger sums.
When the pets are no longer living, the balance of the amount set aside can either revert back to the trust for distribution to beneficiaries or be given to a charity, such as an animal shelter.