Providing for your pet in your estate plan

According to Guinness World Records, a cat named Blackie became the world’s wealthiest cat in history after inheriting $13 million when his owner passed away. While leaving your entire estate to your pet probably isn’t a part of your end of life plans, more and more pet owners are taking steps to ensure that their animals are cared for when they are no longer around.

It may not seem necessary to include your pet in your estate plan. Surely a friend or relative would take in your furry companion after you’re gone, right? Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Too often, pets whose owners die without arranging care end up in a shelter.

If you consider your pet to be part of the family, it makes sense to have a plan in place that ensures they will be in good hands. One such way to do so is with a pet trust – a legal document that provides for the care and maintenance of companion animals in the event of the grantor’s death.

What should you include in a pet trust?

The care you outline for your pet in your pet trust can be as straightforward or as detailed as you want. Pet trusts are legally enforceable arrangements that will typically last the extent of your pet’s life, so you can rest assured they’ll receive the love and comfort you want for them. When determining what to include in your pet trust, there are a few key things to consider:

  • Choosing a caretaker: You’ll have to name a caretaker for your pet in your pet trust. For this role, you’ll want to choose someone who is not only willing to care for your pet but is also responsible and capable of doing so. It’s also a good idea to name a backup caregiver in case the original caregiver’s circumstances change.
  • Setting aside expenses:  You’ll need to set aside some funds that will cover your pet’s needs for their expected lifespan. You should consider your pet’s veterinary care, grooming needs, food, toys and other unexpected needs.
  • Creating a care plan: The care plan you include in your pet trust should clearly outline for the caregiver your wishes for care. It may detail what your pet eats and how often, whether they require daily walks or exercise, their vet’s contact information and burial plans for their end of life.

Pets are an integral part of our lives. Creating a pet trust can give you peace of mind knowing someone you trust will look after them.