Estate planning for your pet
This edition of the Koldin Law Center E-Newsletter reviews options to provide for your pet(s) as part of your Estate Planning.
All prior newsletters are saved on our website. You can read them by clicking here.
If you have a pet that close family members love and promise to adopt, you already have a sense of security that your pet will be well taken care of after your death.
However, if you are relying on friends or family members who are not already close to your pet, a Pet Trust is something that you may want to consider as part of your estate planning.
Estate planning for your pet(s) has 3 parts:
- Appointing someone to adopt or care for your pet,
- Setting aside funds to cover your pet’s expenses,
- Appointing someone (Trustee) to manage and distribute the funds as needed for your pet.
Appointing Someone to Adopt or Care for Your Pet
In New York, a pet is considered personal property. Your Will can specify who is to inherit your pet. You should ask the person ahead of time if he/she is willing to assume ownership and care for your pet.
You should also designate alternate owners for your pet in case your first choice becomes unable or unwilling to care for your pet at the time of your death.
You can also designate a person to be in charge of finding someone to adopt your pet if you don’t have someone to designate at the time you sign your Will.
Setting Aside Funds to Cover Your Pet’s Expenses
You can set aside funds to be used solely to take care of your pet. You can either leave funds outright to the new pet owner and hope that he/she uses the funds for your pet or you can leave the funds into a Trust for the benefit of your pet.
You can leave a specific account or dollar amount for the benefit of your pet. You can also designate a Pet Trust to be a beneficiary of your life insurance.
New York State enacted legislation in 1996 which permits you to provide for your pets after your death. Under this law, you can set aside funds to be held in a Trust to maintain the health, welfare and comfort of your pets.
With a Pet Trust, you decide the amount of funds you want to set aside and designate someone (Trustee) to manage the funds and provide for your pets pursuant to the requirements you set forth in the Trust.
The Trustee cannot use the funds for any purpose other than to care for your pets.
The Trust ends of the death of your pet(s). You designate under the terms of the Trust who inherits the remaining balance of your Pet Trust at the time of termination.
A Pet Trust can be written as part of your Last Will and Testament or as part of the beneficiary provisions of your own Revocable or Irrevocable Living Trust.
You can even set up a “Living Trust” while you are alive for the benefit of your Pet(s) so that it is operational before your death.
Probate Gap in Funding
If you provide for your pet in your Will, it might take many months before the funds become available to be used for your pet because Wills need to go through the probate process.
On the other hand, if you provide for your pet as part of the beneficiary clause of your Revocable or Irrevocable Living Trust, the funds become available immediately for your pet at the time of your death.
For a discussion of Revocable and Irrevocable Trusts, please visit our website by clicking here.
The Koldin Law Center, P.C. has prepared Pet Trusts for many clients. We have prepared these Pet Trusts for dogs, cats, horses, and birds. We are available to meet with you to discuss your options. There is no fee for the initial consultation.
At the Koldin Law Center, P.C., located in East Syracuse, New York, we have over 50 years of experience helping individuals plan for immediate crisis and long term care. Our attorneys are available to discuss your estate planning options, including the advantages and disadvantages of Revocable Trusts and Irrevocable Trusts, along with other estate planning considerations including a Will, Power of Attorney, and Health Care Proxy. We do not charge a fee for the initial consultation. We welcome your children, family attorney, accountant, and/or financial planner to be present at the initial consultation.
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