What planning techniques should I consider
in estate planning for my pet?
Pet owners often forget or purposely do not plan
for their pets in the event their pets should
outlive them. If your pet is important to you
and you have a plan for it after your death, you
should consider the following:
Make a disposition of the pet in your
will or trust to a relative or friend. After
the pet is given to them, it becomes their
property and they are free to do with it as they
You may also give instructions as to the
disposition of your pet in your “Separate
Writing” or “Letter of Instruction” authorized
by your will.
If you wish your pet to be “put to sleep”
upon your death, you should leave the
appropriate instructions with your personal
representative or other family members.
If you wish to leave part of your estate
for the maintenance and care of your pet for the
life of the pet, you should consider the use of
a trust to eliminate court fees and probate cost
for this type of activity. Provisions for the
remainder of any monies after the pet’s death
should also be made.
It is not uncommon
for pet lovers who have no children to leave
their entire estates to the SPCA or other
concerns such as the Seabird Sanctuary. This
type of giving can also offer certain types of
tax advantages to larger estates.
Few people plan
for disabilities resulting in their being unable
to take care of themselves and their pet. In
many cases, the use of a living trust can
provide a guardianship plan for themselves and
their pet without having to use the guardianship
court. This type of planning can eliminate
attorney fees and court costs. The selection of
a trustee to take over upon death or incapacity
is critical to successful planning of this type.