Your estate plan allows you to ensure your loved ones are cared for to the best of your ability after you're gone. And for some Americans, these loved ones include pets which could very easily outlive them. Whether it's a tortoise or macaw that could live decades after your passing or just a puppy starting out on a new life, how can you make sure that your long-lived pet lives a long and healthy life without you? Here are four key tips.
1. Discuss It First
How much of your estate plan to share with heirs and others is up to you. However, caring for a long-living pet is a particularly long job. Make sure your chosen team is fully ready for the task. This includes discussing your plan with the executor and their backup, immediate family, the chosen caregiver, and anyone managing your money. Find out what they need to fulfill your wishes for your pet.
2. Leave a Bequest
The longer a pet will outlive you, the more it may cost for someone else to care for them. The best way to provide a good home, then, is to leave money for their medical care, housing, food, and more. A bequest is an amount of money or asset left in your will for that beneficiary. You may leave this bequest directly in the care of the person taking home the pet or use an intermediary to manage the funds.
3. Consider a Trust
A trust places assets for a beneficiary into a legal vehicle separate from your will. You appoint a successor trustee to take over and stipulate the terms of the trust. These terms set out how long the trust will be in place, how funds are managed, who oversees the matter, what can be paid for, and who provides physical care for the pet. There are even pet trusts designed for just this occasion.
4. Keep Documents Handy
Finally, whatever you do in your estate plan to provide care for your pet, make sure the relevant people find it. All pets need continuous care, so your instructions and arrangements for them should be easy and quick for others to find. Let your executor, the pet's guardian, and others know where to access your documents and the funds needed for pet care right away.
Where to Learn More
Do you have more questions about how to provide for your long-living pet after your death? Get answers by meeting with an estate planning attorney in your state today.