How To Provide For Your Pet In Your Will
For many, their dog, cat, or beloved pet is like a member of the family. For this reason, it’s important to ensure that your animals are cared for after you are not around anymore. Estate plans are created to give you peace of mind and ensure that your estate is distributed in the manner that you intended. While most people hate to face their own mortality by thinking about estate planning, they may be more inclined to do so if they knew it would allow them to ensure that their pets would be safe and provided for even in the event of an unexpected tragedy.
Can I Leave Money for Your Pet?
While we love pets like family members, in the eyes of the law they are viewed as property. For this reason, you cannot leave assets to your pet. However, you can leave money to a person with the intention that they use it to care for your pet. You can also bequeath your pet. This is slightly more complex than it seems on its face. Wills are intended to govern the distribution of assets after the testator’s death. They are not intended to provide instruction with regard to the care or management of the property that is bequeathed. For instance, you can leave someone a house but you cannot keep them from having parties in it, or you can leave someone a car but cannot require them to register it or take proper care of it. Any instructions as to how property should be used or managed is unenforceable. It is completely up to the recipient how they wish to use the property. For this reason, it’s critical that you select someone you trust to care for your pet, and communicate with them ahead of time to ensure that they will care for your pet in the way you intend. Once you have selected the designated caretaker for your pet, you can provide them with a sum of money from your estate for the pet’s care. It is advisable to select an amount that is reasonable, as a high amount may result in family members or other beneficiaries challenging the will. It is also advisable to select at least one back-up caretaker in case the original designee is unable to follow through, or is deceased by the time the will is executed.
Make Pre-Probate Arrangements
Provisions can be made in one’s will to care for their pet. However, these provisions cannot take effect or even be considered until the probate process begins. Sometimes this can be weeks or months after the death. This creates a period of time for which pets can be vulnerable if no plan was made. For this reason, it’s important to make a plan for who will care for your pets following your death up until probate. These arrangements should be made outside of the will with one or two people you trust to serve as emergency caregivers.
Talk to a Palm Beach Estates Attorney
If you are in need of estate planning advice or are ready to create an estate plan that meets all of your needs, contact a West Palm Beach estate planning lawyer at the Law Offices of Larry E. Bray and schedule a consultation today.