Most people look at the question of leaving an inheritance to a dog as something that is kind of out there. An eccentric rich person like Leona Helmsley may leave millions to their dog, but it’s just not sensible for others, right?
That makes sense on the surface, but you may look at the question much differently under certain circumstances.
A significant percentage of older Americans experience loneliness after losing their spouses along with many friends and relatives. This can decrease their quality of life, but it can sometimes cause depression, which is a serious medical condition.
Dog ownership can be the ideal solution. The companionship is clearly self-evident, and a senior will feel a new sense of purpose when they have a furry, four-legged dependent that is relying on them for everything.
There is also the motivation to get exercise and potentially meet people, because the dog will need to go for walks. Clearly, dogs can act as protectors. Even small dogs can make a lot of noise when something unusual is happening outside the door.
Experts that have weighed in on the subject state that dog ownership can have measurable positive health effects. Clearly, there are some great reasons to bring a dog into your home if you are a lonely senior.
Even if you really want to adopt a dog when you are getting older, you are naturally going to have some longevity concerns. What will become of your beloved pet if you pass away first?
This a very good question, but fortunately, you can leave an inheritance to a dog indirectly.
You cannot leave money to a pet in a will, because animals are not allowed to own property. It would be possible to leave an inheritance to someone that has agreed to take care of the dog, but the agreement would not be legally binding.
Plus, since you don’t know how long the pet will live, it would be hard to determine how much you should bequeath to the caretaker. Their anticipated longevity would be another factor.
Given these drawbacks, a pet trust is a far better option. At this point, every state in the union recognizes pet trusts, so you can establish a trust for a pet in Oklahoma.
If you decide that you would like to set up a trust for your dog, you would name a trustee to act as the administrator. It can be a person that you know, and there are professionals that provide trustee services. The trustee would not necessarily have to be the person that cares for the dog.
You fund the trust, and you don’t have to be too concerned about the amount that you convey into it. When you draw up the trust, you name a successor beneficiary. This individual would assume ownership of the remainder that is left in the trust after the death of the pet.
In this document, you can leave very specific instructions with regard to the way you want the dog to be cared for after your passing. The trustee would be legally compelled to make sure that your wishes come to fruition, so you could go forward with total peace of mind.
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We have many posts on this blog you can explore to learn more about estate planning, and there are additional resources that you can access free of charge. One of them is our very useful inheritance planning worksheet.
This tool has been carefully prepared to help you gain a more thorough understanding of the process. It is free, and you can visit our worksheet page to get your copy.
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If you are ready to work with an Oklahoma City estate planning lawyer, we are here to help. You can send us a message to request a consultation appointment, and we can be reached by phone at 405-843-6100. We also have an office in Tulsa, and the number there is 918-615-2700.