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Considering Pets In Your Estate Planning

The question sounds a bit silly, but many of us profess love for our pets, and few do any planning for our four-legged friends. Considering their importance to us during our life, it might be worthwhile to plan for their care upon our death. As the importance of therapy dogs and house cats increases, especially for the elderly, many pet owners may wish to give the matter some thought.

To start, pets are considered property of a person's Estate, so your Executor will be the one making the decisions regarding your pet if he or she were to outlive you. As harsh as it may sound, many pets of deceased owners end up in animal shelters or being put down by a veterinarian. However, planning for a loved pet is not overly complex—it just requires some thought on your part.

First, ensure that your Power of Attorney provides your Agent with the power to make decisions for your animal's care, and allows for the expenditure of funds for the animal's benefit. Next, your Will may provide for who should receive the animal upon your death, and give funds to that person. In some cases, Wills can establish trusts for this purpose. Most importantly, you may wish to create a living document, or “care-plan” for your animal, to ensure he or she receives the proper care if you were unable to provide it. If certainty for your pet is important to you, make it part of your estate plan.

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