The focus of traditional estate planning is typically on creating a plan for distributing to loved ones such as children upon one’s death. Family pets are often neglected in the process. However, more and more New York pet owners are making provisions in their wills for the ongoing care of their beloved animals.
If arrangements are not made for the care of a family pet, the courts will typically treat the animal as personal property. Typically, the pet will simply go to the person or persons inheriting under the will. However, there’s not necessarily any guarantee that such an individual wants to or is prepared to care for the animal. In modern times, it seems contrary to social mores to treat pets the same way in which a dresser or a set of golf clubs might be devised.
One option could be to allow a family member or friend to take over care of a pet after the owner of the pet dies. This individual understandably needs to be somebody who would actually want to keep the pet and has the means to do so. A pet trust can also be a handy tool for ensuring that ongoing care for a pet is covered.
Developing wills or trusts that address the needs of pets helps to ensure that they are taken care of properly after their owners die. Failure to create an estate plan in New York may unfortunately mean that the pet owner’s wishes will not be upheld unless the right person steps in and offer to help. An attorney in New York can provide guidance during the process of creating the legal documents necessary to create a comprehensive estate plan today.
Source: Forbes, “Estate Planning: Include Your Pets!“, Rob Clarfeld, March 30, 2017