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Dog and cat: estate planning

Estate Planning for Your Pet

What will happen to your pets if you passed away tomorrow?

In this age of uncertainty and turmoil, one thing you can count on is that your pet is there for you. But what if the unthinkable happens? Who will be there for your pet if you die? If there is nothing in writing, your beloved pet could end up in a rescue, shelter, or homeless on the streets. The thought of that is heartbreaking to most pet owners. That’s why your pets’ future care should be in writing as part of your estate plan.

Whom do you want to care for your fur baby?

  Who in your family or circle of friends would be the ideal person to care for your pet? Is that person comfortable with the arrangement? You should speak with your pet’s potential caretaker about special dietary or medical needs, life span, exercise and space requirements, and other needs your pet has. You will also want to gauge their interest. If they look disturbed, uncomfortable, or disinterested, it may be in your pet’s best interest if you move on to the next person. Your duty is to find the ideal situation so your pet will be able to adjust after the trauma of losing you.

How will your pet’s guardian pay for your pet’s needs for the remainder of their lifetime?

After your choice on who will care for your pet has been made, it’s time to consider how much money you should set aside to pay for their future care. Quality pet food, bedding, vet care, grooming, etc., can add up fast. It wouldn’t be fair to expect a friend or family member to foot your pet’s caretaking bills after you die. To determine approximate costs, calculate the annual costs to care for your pet and then multiply that number by the pet’s remaining life expectancy and add extra for medical emergencies. These funds will be willed TO your pet’s guardian and NOT your pet, as pets are legally personal property and property cannot receive money. 

If you are considering leaving a large amount of money to pay for your pet’s future needs, you may want to consider creating a trust and assigning a trustee to manage the money for your pet.

Pet Trust option

A more secure option would be to set up a trust for your pet. With a pet trust, you can put money in a trust and assign a trustee to oversee funds. The trust will assign a trustee and caretaker who will have a legal obligation to care for your pet. If your chosen and dually agreed upon caretaker fails your pet, they may be sued. Your trust will include:

• The name and description of the pets to be cared for.

• The name of the person (trustee) who may be responsible for overseeing the process.

• The amount of money to be used for pet care.

• The name of the person that agreed with you to care for your pet.

• Detailed instructions on the care of your pet.

• Details on what should be done with any money left over after your pet dies

What happens if I cannot find a suitable caretaker for my pet?

  If you are not able to find the ideal situation for your pet, contacting the SPCA of Florida, your vet, or a sanctuary is an excellent way to help you find a program that can help you make arrangements. A stipend may be required to ensure your pet gets the care they need while living their life out in a sanctuary or are adopted out to the perfect family.

Contact your Winter Park estate planning attorney today to modify your will and ensure that your pet is taken care of

The Boutty Law Firm, P.A., is passionate about helping families prepare for life after a loved one dies. With a secure estate plan, you can feel confident that your pet will be cared for in their next home. We serve clients in Winter Park and Orlando and in communities throughout Orange County, Seminole County, Osceola County, and Volusia County, FL. We are committed to building strong relationships with our clients and the community.

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