Estate Planning & Your Pets

Dec 15, 2010  /  By: Roger Levine, Estate Planning Attorney  /  Category: Estate Planning, Pet Planning

When you are evaluating all of the loved ones that you would like to provide for upon your passing and exactly how you would like to do so you have a lot to consider. The assets that you will bequeath to your family will usually take the form of stocks and other securities, cash, valuables, and perhaps real property and/or business interests. All of these resources will undoubtedly be well received by your heirs in spite of the unfortunate occurance that led to the distribution. But you may have one or two “family members” that need to be provided for in different ways.

Our pets bring us a lot of joy and they really become members of the family. Pet ownership can be especially enriching for senior citizens, providing love, companionship, protection, and that indescribable but satisfying feeling that you get when you know you are needed. When you are planning your estate you have to keep your pets in mind and try to make the best possible arrangements for the animal or animals that you have.

The simplest and most direct way to handle the matter is to identify a friend or relative who would seem to be a likely candidate and ask this individual if he or she would be willing to care for your pet upon your passing. You can name this person as the “pet guardian” in your will and leave a bequest to pay for the expenses associated with caring for your furry friend.

An alternative is to set up a pet trust and name a caretaker to tend to the pet’s needs and a trustee to oversee the treatment that the pet is getting and administer the funds. Another choice would be to develop a relationship with an animal placement charity and see if you can arrange for them to find your pet a home in the event of your passing in return for a donation.

Levine & Furman, LLC is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.

Should You Use a Pet Trust?

Sep 08, 2010  /  By: Roger Levine, Estate Planning Attorney  /  Category: Advanced Planning, Pet Planning

Do you have a furry loved one who will need care after you pass away? If so, you can provide for your pet with a Pet Trust. This is an Irrevocable Trust that allows you to set aside money for your animal’s living expenses and medical care.

Assistance to Pet

The best way to help a loved one after you pass away is to leave an inheritance for him or her. Did you know your pet cannot receive an inheritance? Although you may treat your fuzzy family member like your child, the law does not see your animal as an entity that can inherit property. Your pet is actually considered property, which means you will not only have to leave a fund to pay for expenses, you must also name a caregiver to inherit your fuzzy loved one.

A Pet Trust, with your chosen pet caregiver or another family member as trustee, is a great way to make sure your pet is well taken care of after your death.

A Pet Trust is also beneficial if you wish to have one family member handle your pet’s expenses while another provides care. This may be best if your preferred caregiver is not good with finances.

Assistance to Caregiver

A Pet Trust can also be beneficial to your chosen caregiver. If you don’t wish to create a Pet Trust, you can leave money directly to the caregiver. If, however the caregiver receives any type of government financial aid, eligibility for that aid will be affected by the receipt of a large sum of money.


There is one downside to a Pet Trust. Like other Trusts, it may be quite expensive to create and manage. If the money you wish to leave for your pet’s care is not significant, you may be better off leaving money directly to the caregiver. You may even be able to work out an arrangement with your pet’s veterinarian where you pay a large amount in advance for future medical care.

Levine & Furman, LLC is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.