What happens to my pets when I pass away?

What happens to my pets when I pass away?

In the eyes of the law, pets are treated the same way as property. Therefore, the judge or the executor of your estate must often make the critical decisions as to who will take care of your pets.

But probate can take months, even years. And even the most well-meaning family members may not be able to follow through in caring properly for a surviving pet. For reasons as diverse as allergies, work schedules, conflicts with other pets and apartment restrictions, the informal vows made by friends and family to care for your pets often fail.

Many states have now passed legislation permitting pet trusts, which may be created through a Last Will and Testament. Unfortunately, the statutory provisions are often bare-bones, and they do not permit the pet owner to leave any instructions regarding the pet's care. Nor do they allow the pet owner to direct how funds should be spent. And there's always the possibility that the pet trust provision could be held up by the court due to a completely unrelated matter in the Last Will, which would only further delay the final settlement. Who will care for the pet or take it for a walk in the interim?

The other issue with statutory pet trust provisions in a Will is that they do not provide for the possibility that the pet owner may become incapacitated or unable to adequately care for the animal. A pet owner can avoid this issue with a Pet Protection Agreement(R) or a traditional pet trust, since those documents can be acted upon even if the pet owner is still alive.

 

 
  • Overview
    Animals have come to play an increasingly significant role in the modern American family. It's proven that people live more fulfilling lives when they live with pets, and two-thirds of all Americans consider their pets to be family members. As veterinary medicine advances and pets lead longer lives...
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  • What happens to my pets when I pass away?
    In the eyes of the law, pets are treated the same way as property. Therefore, the judge or the executor of your estate must often make the critical decisions as to who will take care of your pets. But probate can take months, even years. And even the most well-meaning family members may not be able...
    read more
  • What is a Pet Protection Agreement?
    A Pet Protection Agreement(R) is a document that lets you decide who will take care of your pets and how they will be cared for. Most importantly, a Pet Protection Agreement(R) allows you to name a Pet Guardian, which is the person who will be responsible for taking care of your pet(s) in case...
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  • The Pet Guardian
    The Pet Guardian is the person that you designate to "adopt" or take care of your pets in case you have died or are no longer able to take care of your pets. The Pet Guardian can be responsible for one or all of your pets. But it's possible that you may have different people in mind for different...
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  • Funding
    Providing funds to take care of your pets is optional. However, providing funds can make sure that your pets will be cared for in a manner that they are accustomed. Funds can be a fixed amount or a percentage of an insurance policy, bank account or other asset. In the Pet Protection Agreement(R),...
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  • Formal Pet Trusts
    A formal stand-alone pet trust ensures care for your pets, but it's a complicated arrangement that should be created by an attorney who specializes in estate planning and has special experience in pet issues. If a pet owner plans to leave a substantial amount of money for the care of pets and...
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