Making Sure Your Pets Are Provided For In Your Estate Plan
Pets make wonderful companions, and most owners develop strong relationships with their animals, treating them as cherished members of their family. While it can be hard when a beloved four-legged friend passes away, it is a part of life we are generally prepared for. Unfortunately, what we are often not prepared for is to become incapacitated or to pass away before our pet. If you own a pet or multiple animals, it is important to include them in your estate planning documents. Taking the time to do this can provide you peace of mind, while ensuring those who depend on you continue to get the care they deserve.
Legal Steps to Ensure Your Pets Are Provided For
Including your pets in your estate planning documents is a form of responsible pet ownership, and can help avoid any confusion and prevent your pet from being overlooked in the event something happens to you. According to guidelines from the New York Bar Committee on Animal Law, there are three separate circumstances in which you need to make sure your furry family members are provided for:
- In the event of your death;
- In the time between your death and when your will is settled in probate;
- In the event you are incapacitated.
In making these plans, you will want to name one or two people who you have spoken with and are willing to take responsibility for your pet. You may also want to provide adequate funds to ensure the money needed to pay for vet bills and expenses, such as food, toys, leashes, and other items.
Contrary to some far-fetched stories you may have heard, you cannot leave any part of your estate to the animal directly. Any money intended for their comfort or care will need to go to their caregiver, along with a request to use the money in a certain way. While a conditionally bequest can be made requiring the money to be spent on the animal, you will need to appoint an executor who will be sure and monitor the situation. If you are leaving a large sum of money, you may insert a clause in your will which states that anyone who challenges any provisions of the will is barred from inheriting under any other provisions, just to ensure that family disputes do not arise over the sum of money Fido or Felix receives.
Choosing the Right Person To Be Responsible For Your Pet
In choosing someone to provide for your pet, you need to make sure they are equipped physically, mentally, and financially for the challenge. The Humane Society recommends giving consideration to where they live and other people and pets within their home. Make sure to indicate primary and secondary caregivers, and be sure to talk to the people you have selected about your desires and the expected duties they will perform, while maintaining contact with them regularly. In addition to primary and secondary caregivers, it is also a good idea to also choose temporary and emergency pet caregivers as well, in the event a sudden emergency situation arises.
While some pet owners may elect to send their pets to a local shelter or humane society for care, it is important to check with the facility in advance to ensure they will have the needed space. When pursuing this option, it helps to make sure a financial contribution is included along with your request.
Reach Out to Us for Help
Having the appropriate documents in place is vitally important to ensuring the ones you love are provided for. At Cavallo & Cavallo, our experienced New York estate planning attorneys can help guide you successfully through this process. When it comes to your family, do not delay in making arrangements that are vital to their future security.