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Can I Include Pets in My Will?

For many people, pets are part of the family. People who have been pet parents for years often wonder what will happen to their furry loved ones in the event they can no longer care for them. If you are concerned about what may happen to your pet after your passing, it is possible to implement legal measures to ensure their well-being once they are no longer in your care.

While you may love your pet as if he/she were your child, it is legally considered your property and will be treated as such by the court. This means you cannot bequeath your money, assets, or other property directly to your pet. You can, however, leave behind money for your pet’s care by establishing a trust and naming a designated beneficiary. There are two kinds of trusts you can create to make sure your pet is taken care of:

Establishing Statutory Trusts for Pets

A statutory trust is established by including a statement in your last will and testament that explicitly says you are entrusting money, assets, or other property to your pet. If you do so, it may also be wise to name a person who will become both the trustee and the primary caregiver for your pet, in order to prevent the court from appointing its own representative. This will also streamline your pet’s care whenever someone else becomes accountable for the day-to-day responsibilities of making sure your pet is healthy, well-fed, etc.

Establishing Traditional Trusts for Pets

Creating a traditional trust for your furry friend gives you the ability to name a new parent for your pet. It also allows you to name a trustee to oversee all transactions and make sure the money in your trust is being used solely for the purpose of caring for your pet. If you have a life insurance policy that may be used in the event of your death, you can make your pet’s trust a beneficiary of a portion of the insurance payout.

Extra Tips for Taking Care of Your Pet After Death

Be advised that it may be unwise to create a trust for pets with a low life expectancy or pets that are already advanced in years. Also consider that it typically doesn’t take a large amount of money to properly care for a pet, even including larger costs such as veterinary costs and medications. Once you have made sure the trustee and caregiver you intend to appoint are willing and capable of serving these roles, be sure to include a detailed description of your pet care expectations.

Experienced Estate Planning Attorneys in Phoenix

Our team of Phoenix estate planning lawyers at Taylor & Lihn, PLLC is prepared to serve you however we can, whether you are creating a last will and testament, naming your inheritors, or creating a trust for your pet. Our compassionate approach sets us apart, and our knowledge and experience make us a great asset to you and your family as you organize your affairs.

Call (602) 900-9860 today or contact us to receive a complimentary evaluation.

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