Remember Your Pets When Estate Planning

Remember Your Pets When Estate Planning

You’ve just completed your estate plan and feel satisfied with your results when you feel something on your leg. You look down and see your dog resting its paw on your leg, wanting to go for a walk. That gets you thinking: what will happen to my pet when I am gone?

During the estate planning process, most people focus on how their assets will be allocated and to whom. Business owners should concentrate on not only estate planning but also on their exit strategy and how the business will operate when they are gone.

With all the moving parts of creating an estate plan, many times pets can be overlooked. Most pet owners think of their pets as children and, in many cases, treat them as such. But often they are not included in estate planning. Here are some common ways pets are included in estate plans.

Preparing for Your Estate Planning Meeting: What You Need to Know

Care of Your Pet

If you go on a vacation without your pet, you arrange to have someone watch them while you’re gone, send them to stay with someone, or board them in a kennel or similar business, a “pet hotel” so to speak. This preparation also needs to be done when thinking about your pets for when you are deceased.

When thinking of who to gift your pet to upon your permanent departure, here are some questions to ask:

Is there a family member(s) or friend you trust that your pet gets along with?

Talk to that person about the possibility of your pet(s) staying with them permanently when the time comes. Ask them questions to understand if they would be willing to accept the pet(s) and are in a position to do so. It is a good idea to have an alternate person in the event your primary choice cannot fulfill the responsibilities of caring for your pet.

Should I leave money to help care for the pet?

Pets can be expensive to care for, with food and veterinary appointments being a majority of the costs. You may find a suitable person to care for your pet, but they may be in a financial position that would make it difficult for them to absorb this responsibility. As part of your estate planning, look to allocate assets to the person responsible so they are able to properly care for the pet moving forward. Money cannot be left for pets directly, so it would need to go to the person caring for them.

Should You Use a Will or Trust When Planning for Your Pet’s Care After You’re Gone?

In general, there are two ways you can leave instructions for your pet’s care when you are gone: a will or a pet trust.

Will

With a will, you leave instructions stating who will take responsibility for your pet and any money you are leaving that person to use in the care of the pet.

This is the simplest and least expensive way to include instructions for your pet’s care in your estate plan. Again, when stating your primary choice for who is going to care for your pet, make sure to include an alternate choice to make sure your pet is taken care of. The money designated in the will is for the care of the pet but there are no legal repercussions if the money is used differently by the caretaker.

Pet Trust

Using a pet trust is a bit more complicated and can be expensive but it provides more assurance that your pet will be cared for as you designate.

With a trust, there is more accountability regarding the care your pet receives and for how any money designated for the care of the pet is spent. You can list specific instructions that need to be followed and designate a person to enforce the terms of the trust. Essentially, the trust creates a legal obligation for the caretaker to adhere to after ownership of your pet passes to them.

If you have confidence in the person/people you have in mind for taking care of your pets, then creating a trust may be unnecessary.

Trust & Estate Planning 2021 (With An Eye To Biden’s Administration)

Don’t Forget About All of Your Family Members

If you already have your estate plan in order and you are a pet owner, take the time to review your plan to ensure you have taken the steps to see that your pets are taken care of when you are no longer able to provide them care yourself. To learn more about how to include your pets in your estate plan, contact one of our professionals and they will gladly provide you with the information you need.

Request More Information

© SVA Certified Public Accountants 2021


Biz Tip Topic Expert: EG Schramka

EG Schramka

E.G. is a Principal with SVA Certified Public Accountants and has extensive experience in estate planning, fiduciary taxation and trust administrative services. He also provides income tax consulting services to closely held businesses and high net worth individuals. In addition to his accounting and legal background, E.G. also is an Accredited Business Valuation Specialist and Personal Financial Specialist.

Locations

Madison, WI
1221 John Q Hammons Dr, Suite 100
Madison, WI 53717
(608) 831-8181

Milwaukee, WI
18650 W. Corporate Drive, Suite 200
Brookfield, WI 53045
(262) 641-6888

Colorado Springs, CO
PO BOX 62786
Colorado Springs, CO 80962
(719) 413-5551

Contact

(888) 574-4782
info@SVAaccountants.com
BizTips

Are you in the know on the latest business trends, tips, strategies, and tax implications? SVA’s Biz Tips are quick reads on timely information sent to you as soon as they are published.

Connect With Us

Copyright © 2021 SVA Certified Public Accountants | Privacy Policy | Cookie Policy | CCPA