When a family member dies or becomes disabled, their dog or cat is often turned over to a pet shelter where a third of them are later euthanized according to the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. That totals over a quarter of a million pets each year.
Earlier this year Minnesota became the last state in the union to formally authorize "Pet Trusts".
When it comes to estate planning for pets, our firm has been incorporating pet provisions in our wills and trusts for years.
It all starts with the legal concept that pets are personal property. (Fido or Tabby may not think of themselves as property but the law does.)
When our office helps a client with a will, we include a "personal memorandum" that allows the will maker to designate certain possessions to be left to particular named beneficiaries. This can include your pets, (although it's always a good idea to talk to the designated recipient to be sure he or she is willing to care for your pet after you pass away).
Some clients want to formalize the process a bit more and provide a sum of money with particular instructions for the care of their pet or pets. This is a Pet Trust.
Celebrities such as Patty Duke, Oprah and Leona Helmsley have set aside large bequests and detailed directions for the care of their animals.
The Legislature's recent enactment of Pet Trust provisions increases the enforceability of these arrangements as well as peace of mind for the pet owner.
If you'd like to discuss pet protection in your estate plan, fell free to call our office.