Beloved Peanuts creator Charles Schultz wisely said, “happiness is a warm puppy.” Whether you’re a cat lover, dog lover, or another furry (or feathered) creature connoisseur, you know how true that sentiment is. Animals, certainly more so than humans, are capable of truly unconditional love. While our pets occupy many of our daily thoughts and tasks, too often they are forgotten when it comes to planning for our futures.
It’s difficult to imagine your pet outliving you, but it’s an important scenario to consider, particularly if your pet is young. Think about where the best place for your pet would be in your absence. If you’d like your pet to live with a family member or friend in the event of your passing, make sure to discuss it with that person and have your wishes reflected in your last will and testament. If entrusting your pet to someone you know is not a viable option, look into a local organization that cares for and rehouse animals to thoroughly vetted people looking to adopt an animal. Make sure to have a designated short-term care person named in your will who can care for your pet before the organization takes possession. This process can take a few days or a few weeks, and you want to make sure your four-legged friend is well cared for during this transition time. As with any wishes in your will, make sure your family is aware of your plans so there is no confusion after your passing.
Do’s & Don’ts
While you may wish you could leave your estate and possessions to the friend who has been with you for your best and worst days, unfortunately the law recognizes pets as property and as such, they cannot inherit any assets. You can, however, set aside a sum of money to go toward a pet’s care. These funds must go to a named individual or organization though and not directly to the pet.
You may also consider outlining a backup plan in your will in the event that your named caregiver becomes unable or unwilling to take on the responsibility of your pet. In general, it’s also a good idea to revisit your will every few years to make sure your wishes are accurately reflected.
Estate planning can feel daunting and complicated, but the attorneys at Wild Felice & Partners have over 40 years of combined legal experience and are well-equipped to guide you through the process. Contact a WFP attorney today to discuss your estate planning options.