Estate Planning for Your Pets

by | Dec 13, 2010 | Estate Planning, Wills and Trusts

There’s an old court case that goes something like this. A very rich man once left his black cat to his long-time maid, along with a trust fund to be used for the cat’s care and a stipend to the maid. The trustee began to get suspicious when the cat lived a LONG time. Either something strange was going on or else this cat should be in the Guinness Book of World Records! Well, a little investigation revealed that the maid was now on her 3rd black cat!

That’s one way to keep a trust fund going! When one cat dies, just get another one.

What will happen to your pets when you pass away? What would happen if you became disabled because of a stroke or Alzheimer’s? Pet trusts and other estate planning tools are becoming more and more common to ensure that a beloved pet is well cared for even if you can’t do it yourself.

As a pet owner, you can take effective steps to make sure your pets are well cared for, but also that the funds left are used properly.

Every person can choose how they want to provide for their pet. Your plan need not be complex, but should be able to carry out your wishes.

Here are a few examples of ways to provide for your pet:

  1. Make no specific plans, but leave it up to your executor, family, or friends to find a new home after your death.
  2. Leave your pet (in a will or a trust) to a specific caregiver you really trust. The caregiver is then responsible for the animal’s care.
  3. Along with the pet, leave the caregiver a sum of money for their trouble and to offset expenses.
  4. Create a trust to benefit the caregiver, with instructions to provide funds for the pet’s care.
  5. Create a trust for the pet, along with instructions for overseeing the pet’s care, by naming a trustee and possibly an “Animal Care Panel.”

What have you done to make sure your pets will be cared for after you’re gone?

Set an appointment today for us to review your plan and how it will impact your pets. Contact our client coordinator at 217-726-9200 or at