When you attain senior citizen status, you have to think a bit differently than you did when you were younger. This applies to a wide range of subjects, and pet ownership is one of them.
Loneliness and Social Isolation
Far too many elders experience loneliness and social isolation later in life. If you lose your spouse and other people that were close to you, this is going to make a huge impact. In addition, retired people no longer interact with their coworkers, and social activities may become limited.
A pet can be the ideal solution, and there are multilayered benefits. Clearly, the companionship is at the top of the list. You have a new sense of purpose when a pet is relying next to you. In addition, a dog will need walks, which gives you the opportunity to get outside.
You get exercise in your own right, and fresh air and natural surroundings are uplifting. Plus, when you go to the park and/or the dog park, you may strike up acquaintances with other dog owners. Experts state that there are mental health benefits along with enhanced physical well-being associated with being a dog owner.
Simple Longevity Concerns
You may not lonely, or socially isolated. Regardless, pet ownership can be beneficial for anyone. As a pet owner, you may have longevity concerns. What happens if you pass away while your pet is still alive?
Yes, some people know that family members will step in to fill the void, but others are not so fortunate. Fortunately, there is a solution.
Pet Planning and Pet Trusts
Obviously, animals cannot own property, so you cannot name a dog, cat, or another pet in your will as a beneficiary. Of course, you could leave money to a person with the understanding that they will use the funds to take care of the pet. However, this is a verbal agreement that is not enforceable, and there are other drawbacks and limitations.
The ideal pet planning solution is the pet trust, and these devices are recognized in all 50 states at this point. First, you have to identify a trustee. This can be someone that you know personally that is willing to assume the role. It is important to note that the trustee does not necessarily have to care for the pet in a hands-on manner.
If you do not know anyone that would be a suitable trustee, there is another option. Professional fiduciaries like trust companies and the trust departments of banks provide trustee services. You will be required to pay a fee, but it can be money well spent under some circumstances.
When you are drawing up the trust declaration, you leave specific instructions regarding the way you want your pet to be provided for if you predecease it. Your trustee would have a fiduciary duty to make sure that your wishes are carried out to the letter.
It can be difficult to estimate how much money will be needed to care for the pet for the rest of its life when you are establishing the trust, because there are many unknowns. This is not really a problem, because you can name a successor beneficiary. They would inherit the assets that remain in the trust after the death of your pet.
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Since you are here, you must be interested in learning more about estate planning and nursing home asset protection. We invite you to take a look around, because we have many useful written materials on this site.
One of them is our estate planning worksheet. This resource has been carefully prepared to provide a more thorough understanding of this important process. It is being offered free of charge, and you can click this link to get your copy.
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If you are ready to take the final step to work with an Oklahoma City estate planning lawyer to develop your plan, we are here to help. You can send us a message to set up a consultation appointment, or we can be reached by phone at 405-843-6100.