Estate and Elder Law

Dedon on Estate Planning: Pets and Estate Planning

Bella - A Tribute |

Anyone who has not felt the sadness and loss from the death of a pet either has never owned a pet or is devoid of humanity. My three pound Yorkie, Bella (technically, my daughter's dog, but you know how that works), had neurological issues that affected her ability to see and walk from birth. But Bella had a happy and spoiled life until she succumbed to organ failure at nine years old. Her perseverance and disproportionately sized personality in the face of her special needs only endeared her more to her family.

So I can relate to clients who, planning their estates, say: "And one more thing. How do I take care of my pet?"

Some states, such as Virginia, allow formal trusts for pets. I have created "pet trusts" for clients, but those are typically more involved and provide for horses or a group of pets requiring much attention and resources. When there is a family pet or two, most often it is as simple as identifying the family member or friend who will care for the pet, and perhaps leaving a modest sum to the caregiver.

For some clients, pets and animals are the most important beneficiaries of their estate plan. For many of us, pets need to be considered in the estate plan, either formally or informally.

Bella, R.I.P.

Read more discussion of estate planning topics affecting Virginia residents and U.S. citizens at Dedon on Estate Planning.

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