Who will look after my dog when I die?
How to do estate planning with your pet?
When you are no longer able to care for your cherished animals, what will become of them? There are a lot of folks who never put in the effort to get themselves ready for anything like this happening. If the animals are fortunate, a member of the family, a friend, or even a no-kill animal rescue organization will offer to take them in and care for them. Unfortuitously, a good number of these cherished animals wind up in shelters, where their time is short and they have to struggle to live. At HART, we have seen the reoccurrence of this tragedy on several occasions.
Their relatives kicked Bonnie and Basil out of the home when the caregiver who had been looking after them passed away. Bonnie was found to be roaming free while Basil was discovered to be tied to a post next to the rubbish dump. All three Mikey, Nikki, and Tabetha were left at home alone to fend for themselves when the person who cared for them moved to live in a nursing facility. There was no one who had been designated to look after them. This scenario plays out again and again since many people do not consider making preparations for their pet’s life after they have passed away.
Please make every effort to prevent it from occurring to you and your much-loved pet by doing all in your power. They are putting all of their hope and trust in you to provide for them throughout their whole lives.
What steps can you take to ensure that this terrible outcome does not befall the furry member of your family? There are a few things to consider. In the event that you are unable to look for the animal yourself, the first thing you should do is take three very crucial actions to ensure that the animal will get the appropriate treatment as soon as possible.
Keep an “animal card” with you at all times in your wallet or pocketbook. This card should include information on the pet, such as its name, the sort of animal it is, the location where it is held, as well as any specific care instructions, as well as the information is essential to contact someone who can get access to the pet. Emergency professionals will notice that an animal is dependent on your return for treatment in the event that you are hurt or killed. They may contact the listed person or take other efforts to identify and care for the animal in the event that you are injured or killed. The animal card will assist ensure that the animal lives until the time when your plans for the pet’s long-term care can be put into action, which will increase the animal’s chances of survival.
After that, you need to be ready to create an “animal document.” The information that is found on the animal card should be included in the document, along with any other information that may be necessary. You should preserve the papers pertaining to the animal in the same spot where you keep the documents pertaining to your estate planning. The advantage of using this method is practically the same as that of carrying the animal card, and that advantage is an increased possibility that your preferences for the pet will be communicated to the relevant person in a timely way.
In conclusion, you should post a notice at each entrance to your property that informs visitors about the dogs living there. The presence of these warnings will signal to anybody entering the home or flat that animals are living there.
It is time to make preparations for the long-term care of your dogs now that you are certain they will get urgent attention in the event of an accident or your passing.
The majority of estate planning strategies for animals have been ruled invalid by the courts. The intended bequest to the pet is deemed invalid as a consequence of this disallowance, and the funds are instead distributed to a different recipient from the estate of the deceased person.
Courts are reluctant to approve estate planning for dogs for a variety of technical reasons. These considerations include the following: Because the law considers a pet to be property, you cannot, for instance, leave any of your possessions to your animal companion in your will. You cannot leave the property in trust for a pet for identical reasons, since a pet cannot claim equitable title to the property and cannot enforce the trustee’s obligations. Therefore, you cannot leave the property in trust for a pet.
Trusts for animals also contravene a principle of the law known as “the rule against perpetuities,” which prohibits legal arrangements that last forever. By confining the duration of trust to the lifespan of a beneficiary, this rule ensures that trusts do not continue to exist in perpetuity. The law stipulates that the duration of the trust must be counted in human lives, much to the chagrin of fuzzy creatures such as cats (who have nine lives), as well as other animals with fur.
So, what are some of the options?
Choose a Beneficiary/Animal Caretaker
Choose your pet’s caregiver carefully. This individual becomes the trust’s true beneficiary. The caregiver should be knowledgeable enough to comprehend how a trust works and his or her own rights. Find a beneficiary/caretaker who is willing and able to care for the animal in an appropriate way. Before being named, the potential caregiver should be questioned to ensure that the caretaker would undertake the responsibility of caring for the pet, particularly if the creature needs medical care or special attention as it matures. The pet and the potential caretaker should meet and spend quality time together to ensure that they and the caretaker’s family get along well. If the initial candidate is unable to serve for the remainder of the pet’s life, you should list numerous substitute caregivers. To prevent the pet from becoming homeless, you may empower the trustee to find a suitable home for the animal if none of the designated persons are willing or able to adopt it.
Nominate a Trustee
Choose the trustee carefully and consult with the trustee before making a nomination. The trustee, whether a human or a corporation, must be willing to manage the property for the benefit of the pet and devote the time and effort required to deal with trust administration issues. If the nominated trustee is unable to serve until the trust expires, appoint substitute trustees.
Bequeath Animal to Trustee, in Trust
Bequeath the animal to the trustee, in trust, with instructions to convey custody of the creature to the beneficiary/caretaker. If you provided instructions in an animal card or paperwork, the pet may already be in the caretaker’s control.
Calculate the Amount of Other Property to Transfer to the Trust
Calculate the amount of property required to care for the animal and make any extra payments to the caregiver and trustee. This choice will be influenced by a variety of variables, including the kind of animal, the animal’s life expectancy, the style of living you desire to provide for the animal, and the necessity for possibly costly medical care. When the caregiver is on vacation, out of town on business, getting treatment in a hospital, or is otherwise temporarily unable to provide for the pet, enough monies should be given to ensure suitable care, whether it be a pet-sitter or a boarding facility.
Describe Desired Standard of Living
Specify the sort of care the beneficiary is to provide the animal and the expenditures for which the caregiver may anticipate payment from the trust. Food, accommodation, grooming, medical care, and burial or cremation costs are typical expenditures. You should also offer more thorough instructions.
Specify Distribution Method
Specify how the trustee will distribute trust distributions.
Establish Additional Distributions for Caretakers
Determine if the trustee should provide additional distributions to the caretaker in excess of the amount set aside for the animal’s care. If the caregiver is earning higher payouts depending on providing proper care, the caretaker may feel more obligated to provide excellent care.
Limit the Term of Trust
The duration of trust should not be tied to the pet’s life. Unless state law has passed particular legislation for animal trusts or has amended or repealed the prohibition against perpetuities, the measuring life of a trust must be a human person.
Designate a Remainder Beneficiary
Make it clear who will get any leftover trust property if the pet dies. Otherwise, the judicial intervention will be required, with the most probable outcome being a trust for the benefit of the owner’s successors in interest. You may want to consider choosing an animal-related organization as the remaining beneficiary. You must carefully indicate the legal name and location of the intended charity beneficiary so that the trustee may identify the correct recipient of the residual donation.
Identify the Animal to Prevent Fraud
Clearly identify the creature that will be cared for under the trust. If this step is skipped, an unethical caregiver may replace a dead, lost, or stolen pet with a substitute in order to continue receiving benefits.
Require the Trustees to Inspect on a Regular Basis
Require the trustee to inspect the pet on a regular basis to establish its physical and psychological state. The inspections should take place at random times so that the caregiver does not give the pet more food, medical treatment, or attention just because the trustee is coming. The inspections should take place at the caretaker’s house so that the trustee may view the setting in which the pet is maintained firsthand.
Include Instructions for Animal’s Ultimate Disposal
Include instructions for your beloved pet’s final disposition after they die.