If you finally got around to making that estate plan, you should feel proud of yourself. You have given a great gift to your loved ones, and they will certainly be grateful to you. However, did you remember all of your loved ones in your will? Despite the unconditional devotion pets give us, people often overlook them when making an estate plan.
When New Jersey pet parents forget to provide for their furry friends, too often those animals end up in shelters, spending their last years alone and unloved. However, before you bequeath Fido or Fluffy to family or friends, animal advocates recommend having frank discussions to determine if they are willing and able to care for your beloved pet for the rest of his or her life.
Options for the future of your pet
Many people designate a caregiver in their wills and leave a sum of money for the care, feeding and medical needs of their pets for an estimated period of time. You should know that some unscrupulous people might agree to take your pet so they can claim the lump sum you provide in your will. There is no guarantee they won't get rid of the animal once they have the money.
A better alternative than a will may be to set up a pet trust for the following reasons:
- You can set up the trust to release funds only for the specific needs of your pet.
- You can designate one person to inherit your pet and a separate trustee to manage the funds.
- Your trustee will ensure that the caregiver uses the funds for the purpose you intended.
- Your trustee can oversee the care of your pet and select a new caretaker if needed.
Your trust may also include some compensation for both the caretaker and the trustee, and it should stipulate what should happen if any funds are left after your pet dies.
A final act of kindness
While your first concern in making your estate plan is likely the security of your family members, you can't deny the loyalty and affection your pet has given you over the years. You certainly would not want to reward that devotion by leaving the fate of your beloved pet in the hands of strangers.
You can provide for the care of your pet through careful estate planning with the help of an attorney. Your attorney will answer your questions about the various options available to you and help you determine the best estate planning tools to fit your circumstances.