Pets Are People, Too!

If one were to believe for a second that pets are not important, they might consider the impact owners’ love for their furry friends have on the US economy: Over $35 BILLION spent on grooming, healthcare, shelter, food, etc. To put it in perspective: According to the US Census Bureau, consider these statistics: Average 2011 Monthly Spending per Person for Civilian Population over the age of 16

  • Children’s Clothing: $5
  • Day care/nursery schools: $4
  • School Lunches: $3
  • Pets: $9

Okay, so not everyone has children, you say? Let’s look at these statistics:

  • Wine: $9
  • Pets: $9
  • Fuel Oil: $8
  • Tires: $8
  • Movie Theaters: $4
  • Laundry/Dry Cleaning: $3

There is no doubt that we love our animals!  However, as much as we love our pets, there is a larger statistic that shows pets are the most neglected consideration in the majority of pet owners’ estate planning. Most states may consider pets as property and not heirs with a claim against the estate in the absence of being designated by the deceased as an heir.

But the fact is that pets don’t cease to exist if the owners pass away or become incapacitated. They still need to be fed and have care for their well being and health.

There is a story about a plain, black cat’s wealthy owner who left the maid a trust to provide for the total care of the cat. After several years, the trust executors became suspicious as it would be a world’s record if the cat WAS still living but yet the maid was still remitting the documents for the care of the cat. An investigation revealed that the maid had taken care of the cat till he died, procured another black cat until that cat died and was now on her third black cat and still financially benefiting from being the trustee for the cat’s care.

So… what do you do if you want to provide for your beloved pet to make sure that your pet is not abused, neglected, or otherwise left in undesirable circumstances? It’s no longer only the ultra wealthy who leave provisions for the care of their pets in the event of their death or incapacitation, and actually, it’s becoming more and more common.

As a pet owner, you really should consider these questions in your estate planning and also how to fund your plans and to make sure they are used properly. (The black cat’s owner could have taken a few more steps to ensure the trust for his pet wouldn’t have been squandered through theft by conversion!) Call my office and join my growing list of pet owners who want to ensure legally that their pets will be cared for after their death or incapacitation. We’ll consider these options:

  • Make no specific plans, but leave it up to your executor, family, or friends to find a new home after your death.
  • Leave your pet (in a will or a trust) to a specific caregiver you really trust. The caregiver is then responsible for the animal’s care.
  • Along with the pet, leave the caregiver a sum of money for their trouble and to offset expenses.
  • Create a trust to benefit the caregiver, with instructions to provide funds for the pet’s care.
  • Create a trust for the pet, along with instructions for overseeing the pet’s care, by naming a trustee and possibly an “Animal Care Panel.

Consider the options and how the results of each will impact your pet. What have you done to make sure your pets will be cared for after you’re gone? Call me, and I’ll discuss with you what you SHOULD do!   Call 818.905.6088 or click here to make your own appointment!  Do it NOW while it’s on your mind!

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