In the past few decades, pet ownership has increased dramatically. These furry little friends have indeed become part of our families, and we have grown to love them and treat them as if they were one of our own children.
According to Forbes, as of 2023, 66% of U.S. households own a pet. That’s almost 90 million homes. For many families, that means that their pets are an important consideration when it comes time to put together or revise an estate plan. It is commonplace to see pets included in wills or to have a pet trust.
What does the law say about pets?
The law considers pets property. This is important to note because if you want someone to care for your pet, you must act by stating this clearly in your will or create a pet trust to ensure they are cared for. Otherwise, the court can dispose of them like they would property.
What options do I have to protect my pet?
- You can select someone to care for your pet (or more than one person, just in case) and ask them if they are willing to undertake this responsibility. If they are, you can include this information in your will.
- Determine how much money to set aside and leave for your pet and compensation for the person caring for your pet if you want to. You are not obligated to pay them.
- You can consider a pet trust, which is different than asking someone to care for your pet and documenting your wishes in your will. A pet trust is legally sanctioned, meaning the court can make an individual care for that pet. It is a more serious way of ensuring the safety of your pet.
Whatever decision you make to ensure that your pet ends up in good hands after you’re gone, it is imperative to do this while you can and not postpone the process. While it may be uncomfortable to think about, you do not know what tomorrow brings, and it is better to be safe than sorry.