Planning for Pets

While you spend most of your estate planning focused on your family and friends’ well being, there is often one slightly furrier friend that is overlooked – your pet.  There is a long history of providing for pets in the UK, and these sorts of arrangements have become much more popular in the US.

Leona Helmsley and her dog, Trouble.

Leona Helmsley and her dog, Trouble.

There have even been some pretty absurd cases in the news lately about pets being provided for – deceased billionaire Leona Helmsley left $12 million in a trust for the care of her dog, Trouble.  Tobacco heiress Doris Duke willed a $100,000 trust for her Shar-Pei, Rodeo. A traditional pet trust works in every US state and allows the pet owner to leave specific instructions to the pet caregiver.

When working with an estate planning attorney, there are many instruction options to consider.   Here are a few of the most important :

  • Food and preferred diet
  • Favorite toys
  • Cages and housing (scratch posts, dog houses etc.)
  • Grooming
  • Health care (often a specific veterinarian is named)
  • Burial or cremation upon the pet’s death
  • Liability insurance in case someone is injured by your pet

If you are considering how much money to put in your pet trust, make sure you keep in mind the animal’s life expectancy (6 to 14 years for a dog, 12 to 18 years for a cat, and 10 to 30 years for a pet bird), the expected cost of veterinarian services, and the expected cost of grooming and upkeep.

These are just a few things to discuss when considering your estate plan with an elder law attorney.  Click here for more information about estate planning, or contact elder law attorney Adam Tobin for a free consultation.

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