What Happens to Your Pets When You Die?

Estate Planning

Many people have pets. Perhaps you have wondered what would happen to your pets if you were no longer able to take care of them. Below are answers to the most commonly asked questions.

Can I provide for my pets if I am unable to take care of them?
Yes, you can. The law allows you to choose a caretaker for your pets. If you become sick or disabled, you should designate the custody and care of your pets to a friend or relative until your health improves. You do this by writing a note or a document that authorizes someone to care for your pets in your absence.

Can I provide financially for my pets during my illness or disability, or after my death?
Yes. During any sickness or injury, the person who is handling your financial affairs can also be given the power to provide for your pets. You may provide funds to your caretaker for food, supplies and veterinary care.

Can I create a trust just for my pets?
Yes, the use of trusts is allowed to provide for the care of an animal. You can set forth your wishes for a caretaker of your choice, and direct how funds may be spent. You can provide that in special circumstances, such as an illness or emergency.

If I can't find a caretaker, can I name an organization that cares for animals?
Yes. You can provide a cash gift to be held in trust for the benefit of your animals and upon your pets passing, the balance can pass to the animal charity. You may wish to state your wishes as to the new home for your pets including pet names, and any special needs. Gifts to shelters or an animal sanctuary of your choice are considered charitable donations and can bring tax savings.

What else can I do to protect the pets I love?
You could carry a note in your purse or wallet explaining that you have pets at home that depend on you. List their names, what kind of pet and what care they need. You may wish to include the name and phone number of a friend or relative who can gain legal access to your home or yard.

In conclusion, your estate planning can entail issues related to the care of a pet. Pets can be a very important part of one's life. If your pets are very important to you, do not neglect to plan for them when considering your estate planning affairs.

Jeffery J. McKenna is a local attorney whose practice has been focused on Estate Planning for over 20 years. He is licensed and serves clients in Utah, Arizona and Nevada. He is a shareholder at the law firm of Barney, McKenna and Olmstead. If you have questions you would like addressed in these articles, please feel free to contact him at 435 628-1711 or jmckenna@barney-mckenna.com or visit the firm's website at WWW.BARNEY-MCKENNA.COM, he would enjoy hearing from you.