By Solid Serenity Legal Solutions
A 2017-2018 National Pet Owners Survey found that 68% of American households have at least one pet. That’s roughly 85 million families with a pet family member. Pets are not just roommates living in your house, but rather, members of your families.
Have you thought about what happens to your dog, cat, or other animal family member when you pass away? Proper planning can help protect your pet and ensure that your pet is taken care of when something happens to you.
The most common and traditional way of planning for a pet’s well-being if something happens to you is to gift your pet to someone else, usually a trusted friend or family member.
This is the simplest answer but could be a difficult situation both for your pet and the person who takes over caring for your pet. For the friend or family member, having a pet could add expenses, both in the form of regular upkeep and feeding and also potentially more expensive needs as the pet gets older, that they may not be able to afford. And for your pet, there is no guarantee they will be shown the same care and attention that they are accustomed to, especially as they grow older and medical expenses begin to increase for their care.
Another option is to create a trust for your pet. The benefits to creating a trust to take care of your pet are much greater than those that come with giving your pet as a gift.
Creating a trust for your pet involves a few important decisions. First, you must find someone able and willing to act as caretaker for your pet, someone you trust who has hopefully already spent considerable time with your pet. Second, you must decide who can manage the trust, disburse the funds, and oversee that the caretaker is following the plan left for your pet. Third, you must allocate funds to provide for the care of your pet at the level you want if something happens to you.
Ensuring that your pet has the funds to be fed, cared for if injured or ill, and maintain the same lifestyle it enjoys while you are alive will require money to be set aside. Depending on variables such as what kind of animal your pet is, its size, its age, and any health concerns, the cost for your caretaker to look after your pet for the duration of its life could be anywhere from a couple thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. The best way to find out how much your pet will need in the case of your passing is to talk to your veterinarian.
Setting up a trust for a pet could be too much for some people, but if it makes sense for you to pursue this route to provide for the care of your pet family, make sure you are speaking to experienced professionals. Reach out today to an estate planning attorney to help you plan for your pets if something happens to you!