No one wants to ponder their own mortality. However, by creating a thorough and detailed estate plan, you can help ensure your family members — both human and nonhuman — are taken care of long after you are gone.
Wondering how and why it is necessary to consider your furry, scaly, or feathery best friend when planning your legacy? Imagine you are seriously injured in an accident. What will happen to your pet if you are incapacitated? If you don’t have a pet protection mechanism in place, your pet may become homeless, or worse yet, be euthanized.
How to protect your pet
Fortunately, you can avoid such tragic circumstances by planning for the happy future of your animal companion. Here are six tips to help make sure your pet is protected if you are incapacitated or deceased:
- Make a list of pet caregivers — If you were gone tomorrow, who would you trust to care for and love your dog, horse, cat, bird or other animal family member? Your list of candidates should include people who are trustworthy, healthy, and above all else, animal lovers.
- Start saving money for a pet trust — Putting a little money aside every day, week, or month can ensure that your pet has shelter, water, food, leisure time, etc., if they outlive you.
- Consult with an estate planning attorney — If you haven’t already done so, it is vital that you talk to an estate planning lawyer. Not only can an attorney help you care for your pet if tragedy befalls you, they can also assist you in protecting other assets including your home, business, and other property.
- Create a pet trust — By creating a pet trust, you can appoint someone to look after your pet in the event that you outlive your animal companion. An attorney can explain the importance of choosing a reliable trustee. Next, you’ll need to ensure your pet trust is funded and you must provide detailed instructions on how to care for your pet. Pet trusts can ensure that you and your best friend remain together even if you are transferred to a nursing home.
A low-cost pet trust can be found at MyPetWill.com. Estate planning attorney and animal advocate, Peggy Hoyt is the creator of this legal document designed to be valid in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Be sure and work with your attorney to incorporate this trust into your existing estate plan.
- Maintain your pet estate plan — Creating and maintaining a comprehensive estate plan including your pets is vital to the preservation of your legacy. While a will has no power when it comes to the continuing care of your pet, it can explain that you have a pet trust in place, and it can set forth your specific instructions about how your pet should be cared for.
In addition to being an experienced estate planning lawyer in Florida, Peggy Hoyt is the author of “All My Children Wear Fur Coats – How to Leave a Legacy for Your Pet”, a detailed and moving book about how to include your pet in your estate plan. She also hosts a weekly radio podcast of the same name. If you need guidance setting up your estate plan, or want to know more about pet trusts, contact Peggy today.
Founded in 1999, The Law Offices of Hoyt & Bryan is committed to serving clients throughout Florida. If you need help creating a special needs trust, establishing a pet trust, drafting a will or trust, or resolving an elder law dilemma, don’t hesitate by contacting us today.