I have previously blogged about and been quoted in articles discussing the importance of including pets in an estate plan. Examining this issue from a personal perspective only serves to bolster my views regarding how necessary and helpful this work can be.
Recently, I had a discussion with some friends about our cats. These friends had named me in their revocable living trust as the person who will make decisions in relation to their much-loved cat when they die. They have also designated a sum of money to be used for their cat’s care. If I decide to re-home their cat, that money would be distributed to the cat’s new caretaker.
From my perspective, this estate planning arrangement works exceedingly well in several respects:
- Nothing is a surprise. My friends had a clear, proactive conversation with me in advance about their wishes. I also love their cat and would be happy to help him live his best life.
- If my friends predecease me, and if my cat (and our Office Morale Leader!) Roger is also deceased, I would love to personally care for their cat. He’s an awesome cat, he knows me, and I believe I could provide a good home for him. There would be money available for me to hire a pet sitter to take care of the cat daily in my friends’ California home until arrangements could be made to transport the cat to his new home in Washington. Money would also be available for the transportation costs. Then, once the cat became a resident of my home, adequate funds would be available to care for him in terms of his food, his veterinary care, and his litter box needs.
- If my friends predecease me, and Roger is still alive, their male cat and Roger could not realistically live together amicably. In that event, I would still have money to hire a pet sitter and to do whatever is needed to ensure their cat is placed in a new loving home. I know their cat, and I have a good idea about what type of environment he would thrive in. It would make it easier to re-home their cat by letting the prospective caretakers know that funds will be available for the cat’s needs throughout his life.
I truly appreciate that my friends were thoughtful enough to include their cat in their estate planning. Imagine my distress if something happened to them and no plan whatsoever was in place to take care of the cat – if family and friends were simply tasked with “getting it figured out.” The care that my friends have shown for their cat, and by extension for me, is the reason that they are friends in the first place!
If you want to develop a proactive and workable plan for your pets as part of your estate planning, please let us know. We’d be happy to help.
This post is for informational purposes and does not contain or convey legal advice. The information herein should not be used or relied upon in regard to any particular facts or circumstances without first consulting with an attorney.