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Basic Questions About Estate Planning – How do I Protect a Pet in an Estate Plan?

A lot of people in Greensboro, North Carolina want to know how to protect a pet in an estate plan. If you have a pet, or multiple animals, making a plan that ensures those animals will be properly cared for is likely near and dear to your heart. Today, as part of our series on basic questions about estate planning, we will look at how you can protect a pet in an estate plan.

How do I Protect a Pet in an Estate Plan? Inheritances

Many people naturally assume that the answer to caring for their pets through estate plans is to leave those pets inheritances. After all, if you leave your pet some money in your will, this seems like the easiest way to make sure the pet is cared for, right?

Wrong. Pets cannot inherit money or property because the law does not recognize their ability to own anything. Pets are a type of property, and cannot be the legal owner of other property, nor can they inherit money. So, if you simply leave your pet an inheritance, you’ll just be leaving a problem when it comes time to distribute your property after you die.

How do I Protect a Pet in an Estate Plan? Pet Care

Since you cannot leave your pet an inheritance, the next best option seems to be leaving the pet to a friend or family member. After all, since pets are property, and you can use your will to make choices about who inherits your property, can’t you just leave your pet to someone as an inheritance?

Yes, you can, but there’s a problem here too. There is no guarantee that the new owner will care for your pet in the manner you expect. Further, even if you leave that person an inheritance to pay for the pet’s expenses, you have almost no way to ensure the new owner will use the money to care for your animal.

How do I Protect a Pet in an Estate Plan? Pet Trusts

The solution to these pet and estate planning problems can all be provided by a pet trust. With a pet trust you can set some of your money aside and require that it only be used to pay for the expenses associated with the animal’s care. Further, you can appoint someone, called the trustee, who has a legal obligation to only use the funds for the pet’s care.

Also, when you create a pet trust, you will choose a caregiver who will have the responsibility of looking after the pet on a day-to-day basis. If the trustee believes the caregiver is not caring for the pet in the appropriate manner, the trustee can choose a new caregiver.

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