Stipulating the care of a pet after death in will planning

by | Nov 17, 2016 | Estate Administration |

People in Rochester and throughout New York who have concerns about their personal property for the future will undoubtedly be aware of the need to consider estate planning and will planning. One issue that is worrisome for many is if they have a pet. In some instances, the person does not realize that it is possible to stipulate for a pet’s care after death. In others, they might be embarrassed to try and add a pet to a will. The truth is that it is not only possible, but wise and kind to do so.

Under the law, pets are personal property. This makes the pet not dissimilar to a home, a car or jewelry. With that in mind, it makes sense to include the pet in the will or estate plan. There are certain factors to consider when doing this. The testator must think about who will care for the pet after death. It might be a relative or a friend. If there is not a person who can do it, there are other options like charitable organizations who specialize in this type of situation.

Money will have to be available for the care of the pet. For many, a lump sum is preferable. This will include general, everyday care as well as medical expenses. The pet’s age and health concerns will dictate how much should be there. The details of the pet’s care will have to be in the estate plan or the will. The pet’s care can be limited unless the person is seen to be responsible with the pet. A wise option with this is to have a trustee and a pet caretaker as two separate people so the trustee will be able to make sure that the pet is cared for and will not distribute the funds unless this is deemed to be the case.

While many will think about their property after death and will not even think about a pet as “property,” caring for the pet can often come down to making sure that it is part of the will or other estate planning device to ensure that the pet is cared for appropriately and up to the standards the testator has set. Having legal help from an attorney experienced in estate administration can help with moving forward with the care for a pet after the owner’s death.

Source: Time, “Yes, You Should Include Your Dog in Your Will,” Tracy Craig, Nov. 3, 2016