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  • Writer's pictureRana M Waleed

Estate Planning for Pet Owners

Pets are cherished members of our families, and for many New Yorkers, ensuring their well-being even after we're gone is a crucial part of estate planning.  Incorporating provisions for our furry companions is both essential and attainable. Let's delve into the unique considerations pet owners face in the realm of estate planning.

 


Important Pet Provisions

 

Designating Pet Caregivers 

Identify a responsible caregiver willing to take on the care of your pet in your absence. Discuss this responsibility with them beforehand.

 

Care Instructions

A thorough plan for your pet will also include detailed care instructions for your designated caregiver.  This is where you may list information about their routines, dietary needs, medical history, and any special requirements.

 

Ownership Documentation

Provide legal documentation for your pet to the caregiver as part of your estate plan, or direct them as to where the documentation can be found.  State licenses, veterinary and vaccination records, and chipping information are all important documents to share with potential caregivers.

 

Financial Provisions Bequests in Wills or Pet Trusts

Pet owners can leave a certain sum to an individual or entity to pay for the cost of feeding and caring for pets.  Such a bequest can be a certain sum, or a percentage of the estate, and should be adjusted as time passes. 

 

One can also create a stand-alone pet trust, include pet trust planning as part of a general inter vivos trust or by Last Will and Testament.  Note that wills only take effect after probate, so they might not address immediate needs of your pet.  For this reason, trust-based planning may be preferable.

 

Pet trusts are specifically authorized under New York Estates, Powers and Trusts Law § 7-8.1.  A trustee is named in a pet trust to distribute funds to the caregiver (who may be the same person as the trustee, or not).  These funds must be used for the pet’s care, including expenses such as food, veterinary care, grooming and other necessities.

 

Final Thoughts

Be sure to discuss your intentions and plans with family members, friends, or anyone involved in your pet's future care to ensure everyone understands your wishes.

 

And, as circumstances change, review and update your estate plan to reflect any alterations in your pet's care arrangements or financial provisions.

 

Conclusion

Estate planning for pet owners in New York City isn't just about assets; it's about securing a future for our beloved animal companions. By including clear and thoughtful provisions for your pets in your estate plan, you can ensure their continued care and well-being.

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