According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, pet ownership in the U.S. is now at record levels, and the trend of providing for pets in a will is growing.
However, writing your pet into your will is not the right way to provide ongoing care for your furry or feathered friends – instead, choose a pet trust to provide the right legal protections for your pet.
While state laws treat pets as property – which means they cannot inherit via a will – a majority of states (46, including California) do have provisions in their laws for pet trusts. Sure, you could leave assets for the care of your pet to a designated caregiver in your will – but that person has no legal obligation to carry out your wishes.
By putting those assets into a pet trust instead, the trustee of that pet trust does have a legal obligation to carry out the terms of the trust. Besides naming a trustee, you will also need to name a caregiver (if that person is different than the trustee) to do the actual work involved in caring for your pet. Be sure you name successors for both the trustee and the caregiver in case one or the other dies before the pet does, or is unable to perform their duties for any reason.
A pet trust can also provide you with peace of mind since you can choose for it to take effect at any time, either after your death or if you become incapacitated due to an accident or illness.
The Flanigan Law Group provides Southern California residents with personal attention for estate planning, administration and litigation legal services. When disputes between families, arise, they are very successful in resolving legal estate issues quickly and efficiently while preserving financial and emotional resources. Contact the Flanigan Law Group at 949-450-0041.