It might sound unusual, but many New Yorkers who are taking the wise step of creating an estate plan will want to include their pets in some way. In truth, it is not unusual at all. People treat pets as part of their family and will want to ensure that the pet is cared for as part of an estate plan. There is no reason to be embarrassed about trying to craft the documents and formulate strategies to address pets. When considering it, it is critical to have experienced legal help.

When creating an estate plan, there are ways to protect a pet. One way is to use a will to give the pet to a person to care for and to provide money for the costs associated with it. This is comparable to leaving property to another person. The pet will be considered an asset along with money for upkeep. Another strategy is to have a pet trust. This can be more complicated and costly, but for people who are interested in better control as to how the pet is cared for, it is a beneficial way to do it. With the pet trust, there should be a caretaker or custodian who will address the pet’s daily needs. This will require a trustee – someone who is not the caretaker – to oversee the funds for pet’s care.

The caretaker and trustee must be agreeable to the arrangement. Issues could arise such as the caretaker living in a residence that does not allow pets. The person who is named as the caretaker should be consulted beforehand to avoid the pet being caught in the middle. A backup caretaker can be useful in multiple ways. Costs are not irrelevant and there must be sufficient money to care for the pet’s basic needs as well as veterinary care. Finally, the documents should be regularly updated if the pet has died and there is a new pet or other issues crop up.

As with any area of estate planning, it is critical to have legal assistance to make the desires of the person who is formulating the document come to fruition. With homes, cars, savings accounts, financial portfolios and the care of children, this is key. It is also important when dealing with areas of complicated estate planning such as caring for pets. An estate planning law firm can help with this and any other situation.