When creating an estate plan, most people ensure their children and spouse are covered. Sadly, few people consider how their death could impact their furry family members. In fact, statistics indicate that only about 18 percent of pet owners have considered making provisions for their pet in their will. This oversight, which may be partially attributed to the fact that not everyone knows you can estate plan for a pet, often results in a poor outcome for beloved animals. Learn how you can prevent such a fate for your family pet using a pet trust or comprehensive estate plan, and discover how a seasoned estate planning lawyer can assist you with the estate planning process.
Why Include Your Pet in an Estate Plan?
In most states (including Illinois), pets are considered property. That means, if a pet owner dies, the animal is distributed like any other asset. Unfortunately, because a pet holds no financial benefit for the inheriting heir, it may be abandoned, surrendered, or neglected due to a lack of funds or desire to care for the animal. An estate plan can reduce the risk of such an issue occurring – and not just because the guarantor usually speaks with the inheriting party to ensure there is a desire to care for the pet, but because it often allows the pet owner to set up a fund that ensures the pet is well cared for, long after they are gone. Pet owners can also elect to set up alternate or subsequent guardians for their pet, just in case something should happen to the primary heir of the animal, such as a death, the birth of a child, or the development of allergies.
How to Estate Plan for Your Pet
Creating an estate plan for an animal is a lot like making provisions for a child, but there are many special conditions and limitations that must be considered. For example, pet owners may be able to find a life insurance policy that can be left to the pet heir to ensure proper care of the animal, but these can be both difficult to find and costly – especially for older pet owners. Alternatively, the pet owner can set up a trust for the animal that covers the expected cost of vet bills, food, and grooming for the life of the pet. In either case, it is critical to ensure that the person receiving the money is interested not just in inheriting the funds, but also caring for the animal for the rest of its natural life. As such, it is highly recommended that pet owners take the time to discuss their wishes and desires with a potential pet heir to ensure they are both willing and able to accept the responsibility that comes with caring for a beloved pet.
Contact Our Seasoned DuPage County Estate Planning Lawyers
At Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath, LLC, we prioritize the wishes and desires of our clients. Seasoned and experienced, our Wheaton estate planning attorneys can help you develop a comprehensive estate plan that covers all your family members – even the furry ones. Schedule a personalized consultation by calling 630-665-2500 today.