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Estate Planning for Your Pet

February 5, 2021 by in Estate Planning

Pets are trusted companions whose love and affection can mean the world to their owners. It’s not uncommon for pets to become a part of our families, whose wellbeing is just as important as your own. As you’re preparing for the next phase and considering what might happen to your pets if something were to happen to you, you may wish to plan for your pet’s care as part of your estate plan. Working with an experienced Melbourne estate planning lawyer is a sound approach for ensuring your furry friend is taken care of when you no longer can yourself.

There are several things to consider when incorporating your pet into your estate plan. This article will assist with your research on the subject and answer the most frequently asked questions regarding how to plan for your pet’s care after your passing.

What Can (and Can’t) An Estate Plan Do for Pets?

While you may be under the impression that you can leave just about anything in your will, that isn’t always the case. For example, you cannot leave money or any other property for your pets in your will. You can, however, use your will to ensure that your pet goes to either a person or organization you trust after your passing and that their new caretaker has the resources necessary to care for your pet over the long-term. As such, you can indirectly leave money and resources for your pet in your estate plan by selecting a guardian for them.

In terms of the types of documents that make it easy to care for your pet in the afterlife, most people opt for a pet trust as a stronger option for ensuring your wishes are met. With a trust, you can assign a caretaker, leave funds, and create a legal obligation for them to comply with your wishes. If they fail to do so, you can sue them for breaching the trust.

A trust document that contains instructions for your pets would name the caretaker, leave a certain amount of money to be used for your pet’s care, describe how the pet should be cared for, and name a person who would enforce the trust’s instructions in court should the caretaker fail to comply with your wishes. As you can see, pet trusts create accountability for both the caretaker and the money you decide to leave them and are one of the more secure options if you wish to ensure your pet has the best care possible.

Work with Your Melbourne Estate Planning Lawyer to Explore Your Options

Some folks worry that no one will be able to care for their pet the same way they did or perhaps feel like they don’t know anyone who might be interested. Fortunately, many organizations accept pets and leave them with a trustworthy caretaker after their owner has passed on. These can include veterinary programs, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and private animal sanctuaries and rescue organizations.

Whether you wish to leave your pet to someone you know or a legacy organization, your Melbourne estate planning lawyer can help you explore your options. Contact our office today to get started.

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