Trust for Your Pet
Pets are often our closest family member. Pets are with us when we are feeling low or suffering through pain. They bring joy to our lives and deserve to be protected once we are gone. With dogs and cats living more than 20 years (and parrots living more than 80 years), it is very common today to include a clause in your will about pet care.
If you want to include pet care as part of your estate plan, you don’t need to tell your family if you fear they will disregard your wishes. Call an estate lawyer who will help you add a few simple words to your will to ensure your pet is not left alone after you pass away.
There are a few different ways to include your pet in your will. The most simple way to ensure pet care is to set aside an exact dollar amount. In addition, you should specify a caretaker for the animal. If you choose, you can create a pet-care trust that will ensure the animal is cared for per your exact instructions — including food, grooming, and housing.
Don’t forget to include your pet in your living will instructions. While your pet might be mentioned in the will, it could be weeks before anyone reads it. If you are at risk of any kind of acute, critical care (heart attack, stroke, etc) be sure to leave instruction in your wallet. Some patients wear two medical alert tags — one for themselves and one for their pet.
Pet care can be disregarded by some as superfluous and indulgent. (Media stories, like the one about Leona Helmsley’s $12 million pet trust, don’t help.) However, pets are often important caregivers for those who live alone or live with chronic illness. Make sure you care for them as much as they care for you.