When most think about establishing an estate plan, they make decisions regarding who will take care of their minor children if they are unable and how to distribute their estate for loved ones. But what about a pet? Most pet-lovers consider their pet a member of the family and sometimes even a child. Since pets can’t directly receive a distribution, how do you provide for a pet if they survive you? Who will take care of the pet, make sure it is fed, groomed, receives medical care … receives the lifestyle you provided?
The American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, in a 2010 study, found that pet owners spent approximately $1,400 annually on their dog or cat. The survey, which included 544 dog owners and 483 cat owners, included expenses for food, supplies and veterinary visits. The amount spent likely increases annually especially in places like California where our busy lifestyles permit others to take care of our pets, creating extra costs on dog walkers, doggie daycare and boarding.
Though you could make a verbal agreement or even a contract with someone to take of your pet, at your death, this agreement may not be valid. While many people haven’t considered a pet in their estate plan, to ensure your pet is taken care of, it may be the most effective. Your current estate plan can be amended to include pet provisions. Your living trust will name the trustee of the pet trust, the person who takes care of your pet both physically and financially. The pet trust will also include the amount to be distributed for the benefit of the pet and any specific provisions regarding care. At your death, a pet trust will be established through your living trust and will be administered for the benefit of Fido until his demise. At such time any money remaining in the trust will be distributed according to the provisions set forth in your trust.
To learn more about providing for your pet after you pass, schedule an appointment or give us a call at (650) 463-1550.