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THE SPL LEGAL PAD BLOG

Could pet care be part of estate planning?

| Feb 4, 2021 | Estate Planning

Estate planning could involve more things than people realize. When engaging in estate planning in California, things might come to mind when looking at the proverbial big picture. Someone might eventually realize that when they pass away or become incapacitated, loved ones may have questions about their pets’ care, such as their dog, cat or horse. After all, for many pet owners, a pet is considered a family member. Taking steps to address pet care in an estate plan seems advisable.

Formalizing agreements to take care of a pet

If someone passes away and no provisions are made to care for a pet, then the pet might end up at a shelter or given away to an uncaring person. There’s also the chance that no one may come to the home and feed the pet. Informal agreements with relatives might not be enough. The person who accepted responsibility for the pet’s care might walk away. What is to stop someone from walking away from informal agreements to feed or care for a dog, cat, horse or another animal?

Coming up with formal agreements to care for a pet may be a better option. One plan involves setting up a pet trust. A pet trust could be crafted in many ways. One option may involve putting money aside in the trust to pay pet sitters, pet taxis, social daycare boarding, grooming, training and veterinary bills. The trustee of the trust becomes the person who pays these parties to perform their duties.

Durable power of attorney for pet care could be another option as estate planning also involves actions taken while the planner is still alive. The document may serve as a way to designate authority for the pet’s care to an agent. The pet’s owner might not be able to care for the pet personally, but a responsible agent could take on such tasks.

Effective preparation for pet care

A planner might wish to hire all the necessary pet sitters and select boarding facilities or veterinarians in advance. Doing so might save valuable time and guide the caretaker about what to do.

Offering clear instructions might help. Leaving someone in the dark about a pet’s medical condition could prove harmful to the pet. Putting sufficient funds away for care is also advisable.

Estate planning for pets could support the humane treatment of a dog, cat or horse. An attorney might assist a planner with creating a useful pet care document.