When you think about estate planning for pets as a young person, it may sound strange. But for senior citizens, this can become very relevant.
A Cure for Loneliness
Many elders experience loneliness after losing loved ones, and this can cause distress and lead to depression. Pet ownership can provide an ideal solution with sweeping benefits.
Basic companionship is a large part of the equation, but there are other considerations.
If the pets are dogs, they will need exercise, so the dog owners may be compelled to go for walks if it is physically possible. They will invariably strike up acquaintances while out and about, and this human contact can make a big difference.
You experience a new sense of purpose if you have a four-legged dependent relying on you. It’s hard not to smile when you watch a playful animal in action. Plus, dogs let you know if there are any strange noises outside the door, so there is an added level of security.
There are many positives, but longevity can be a source of concern if you bring an animal into your home when you are elderly. Fortunately, there are solutions that can provide peace of mind.
Name a Caretaker in a Simple Will
If you know someone who will agree to take care of your pet after you pass away, you can leave your pet to this individual in your will. You can also provide them with a bequest earmarked for the care of the pet, which could be a suitable solution.
If you have any doubts about the sincerity of the potential caretaker or just want to avoid unnecessary temptation, this may not be the right choice. The caretaker cannot be legally compelled to take any particular action after you pass away.
A pet trust might be a better choice if you want to be sure things go as planned. You would establish a pet trust, either as a separate document or in your own trust, then provide funding for the trust and name a trustee to act as the administrator.
This can be a qualified fiduciary such as a trust company, the trust department of a bank, or some other such professional. Or You can designate someone you know personally to act as the trustee.
The trustee preferably would not be the person who will care for the pet. The trustee will be legally required to follow the instructions you leave with regard to the pet’s care.
You can be very specific with regard to living arrangements, a feeding schedule, the types of treats the pet will receive, an exercise routine, and any other details you want to address.
You do not have to worry about assets being left in the trust after the death of your pet. When you prepare the trust declaration, you name a contingent beneficiary if your pet passes with assets remaining in the trust.
Another way that you can make provisions for your pet is through a legacy arrangement. In some areas, the SPCA has programs for people looking for pet planning solutions. Or you may make a donation to a veterinarian or to certain veterinary schools that will care for your pet.
There are private animal sanctuaries and rescue organizations that can provide solutions for pet owners with longevity concerns.
Learn More About Estate Planning
Our attorneys have published a couple of books you can read to gain a comprehensive understanding of this important process. If you are interested, visit our published books page to access free previews and ordering instructions.
Take Direct Action!
If you have already learned enough to know you want to work with an Oklahoma City estate planning attorney to put a plan in place, we are here to help. You can send us a message to request a consultation appointment, or we can be reached by phone at 405-843-6100.