Can I include my pet in my will?

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Carl S. Goode |

Most people who own pets love and cherish them in a human-like manner. However, the law considers pets property. When thinking about your estate planning, it is critical to understand what the law says so you can protect your pet after your death.

Luckily, the law allows you to include your pet or pets in your estate plan, which means you can choose what will happen to them and if you so desire, ensure that your pets continue to be cared for and loved.

If you decide to include your pet in your estate plan, here are steps you can take to begin the process:

  1. Take inventory of how much it costs to care for your pet. Think about vet bills, food, medications, and any other expenses associated with the care of your animal.
  2. Think carefully and thoroughly about an individual you trust who would want to care for your pet. This individual should be someone who you have significant reasons to believe will respect your wishes. Ask them if they are willing to serve as trustee and caregiver of your pet and explain what this means.
  3. If the individual decides to accept your request, consider compensating them for the work they will be doing. You can do this by writing in your will that you want to pay your pet’s trustee, exactly how much and for how long. Remember to be as specific as possible in your will- not only as it pertains to the care of your pet, but in everything you write in it.
  4. Consider a backup trustee for your pet. If the trustee you choose passes away unexpectedly, it may be wise to have a backup option.
  5. Put everything in writing in your will. Ensure that your will is in a safe place. If you have questions about the legal aspect of what you wrote, contact an experienced legal professional.
  6. Consider giving a copy of your will to several people you trust, including an attorney, to avoid misunderstandings.

Thinking about estate planning can be uncomfortable. However, it does not have to be and it is necessary. It is a process that everyone, from young people to older people, should try to get more comfortable with and ensure that they express their wishes using a will to protect their loved ones, their assets and ensure that the person’s choices are honored.

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