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Estate Planning Should Include the Furry Family Members Too

You might be surprised to know, (or not), that pets CAN be a huge part of Trust and Estate Planning. For example, Oprah Winfrey has established a pet trust for her doggies leaving them a cool $30 million for their well-being! One that everyone likely remembers is Leona Hemsley leaving her entire wealth to her dog. Of course, her family had something to say about that and sued for the bulk of the 12 million. Not to worry, her beloved pup still ended up with $2 million. These are astronomical and seemingly absurd sums. But, if you’re like the rest of us, you may still want to provide what you can for your animals. Here are a few helpful hints to help you decide if this should be part of your Trust/Estate Planning.

The first step in planning for your pets goes beyond the legal documents of Estate Planning. The first step is to identify those persons or organizations (pet caregivers) that will have physical custody of your pets and will provide them with daily care throughout their lifetime. This is not dissimilar to providing for minor children, before any of the financial considerations are addressed, you must feel comfortable with the selection of your caregiver. This is not a decision to be taken lightly and should be discussed and agreed upon with the intended person.

The second, and possibly the hardest part of the planning is the financial aspect. You will want to consider how much money to leave for the lifetime care of your pets. In all cases, you’ll want to consider compensation for your caregiver and provide sufficient resources for the lifetime care costs of your pets.

How much money is enough? This can be tricky but consider the following.

First, consider how much you spend to care for your pets now. Then, assume your pets will live beyond their life expectancy. Do the math and then add a little more to provide a cushion in the event your pet has a catastrophic illness.

These are good questions to consider when planning for your pets’ care, in the event of your passing:

• Do any of your pets have unique care requirements (i.e., health concerns, unusual behaviors, etc.) that require special planning?

• Where do you want your pets to live — with a friend or loved one, or at a sanctuary?

• What financial resources will you provide to ensure your pets are adequately provided for?

• Who will be responsible for providing daily care?

• Who will be responsible for the oversight and administration of the assets left for the benefit of your pets?

• People usually leave between 10-20k for the care of their pets.

• They also need to address the euthanizing their pets. Often people indicate they don’t want the pet trustee to feel forced to provide expensive medical care    and are specific that they leave that decision in the pet trustee’s discretion.

• If they have minor kids, they may ask that the pets to stay with the kids, if possible, but that is ultimately up to the guardian.

No one likes to think about their demise, but if you’re caring for pets, it’s important to consider their lives and the quality of their lives after you’re gone. Careful consideration and an honest conversation with an experienced Estate Planning attorney can make this one less thing to worry about. If you have concerns or just need to revisit your Estate Plans, we’re always here to help. May your days be sunny, your pets be pampered, and your health be well.

Source: https://www.kiplinger.com/retirement/estate-planning/603634/estate-planning-for-pets-how-to-protect-your-furry-friends

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Meet Margaret Tritch Buonocore

Margaret Tritch Buonocore began her legal career in Los Angeles as a litigator. She then moved to London where, after completing her LLM, she worked in international business and finance for almost a decade structuring corporate finance transactions, equity offerings, debt, and derivative instruments focusing on contract and securities law issues. Learn More…

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