Don’t Forget To Include Your Pet in Your Will

My four year old’s current favorite move is The Aristocats.

Just in case you don’t spend your days driving around in a minivan with Disney movies on constant loop in the backseat, I’ll give you a quick synopsis.

A family of Parisian felines are set to inherit a fortune from their owner. The owner’s jealous butler, who also happens to be named the alternate beneficiary in the owner’s will, slips the poor kitties a mickey in their nightly bowl of cream and dumps them in the country. Luckily for the rich cats, they run into a smooth talking tomcat who, together with his band of  jazz playing alleycats, helps them return to Paris and defeat the butler.

If you are like Madame in The Aristocats and consider your pet to be family, be sure to treat him as such by including him in your will.

The law considers pets to be tangible personal property, like a car, jewelry, or furniture. If you don’t include your pet in your will, he could be left homeless or sent to a shelter if you die before he does.

  • Choose a caregiver. It could be your children, siblings, nieces or nephews, or a close family friend. Before you make a decision, be sure you discuss your plans with the intended caregiver, to make sure they are interested and will be able to care for your pet. If you don’t have a relative or a friend who is willing to take care of your pet, consider a charitable organization that has a surviving pet care program.
  • Set aside money for the care of your pet. If you are leaving the care of your pet to an individual, you will want to make sure your estate plan sets aside funds to cover your pet’s future care. Calculate how much you spend on food, medical care, grooming, and boarding each year and multiply that number by your pet’s expected life expectancy.
  • Document your wishes. You have found someone to take care of your pet and have figured out how much it will cost? Great. Now you need to document your wishes in your will. Like any other piece of property, you will need to include in your will who you have chosen to inherit your pet and funds that person will also inherit from you to cover the cost of your pet’s care. If the funds are significant, you may also want to consider setting up a pet trust to manage the money for your pet’s care.

Are you including your pet in your estate plan? Leave a comment or send me an e-mail.

Disclaimer: This website is made available for educational purposes only as well as to give general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this website you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the publisher. The website should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

Copyright © 2018 by Siobhán Fitzpatrick Kratovil. All Rights Reserved.

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