Barrett Legacy Estate Solutions

5 Tips on Including Pets in Your Estate Plan

Pets often become important family members. About 68% of U.S. households have at least one pet, with dogs being the most popular. It makes sense, then, that pet owners consider their beloved pets when developing a comprehensive estate plan. As a pet owner, it’s important to know what you can and cannot do when setting up a pet trust.

Tip #1

You can fund the trust with any amount of money that is reasonably expected to care for the pets. If the trust contains an excessive amount of money — $10 million to care for your cat, for example – a court may reduce the trust. Excess money may be passed to an heir-at-law.

Tip #2

Pet must be living at the time the owner passes away. A pet trust cannot provide for ‘future children’ like a Will. Any puppies Lassie has after your death are on their own.

Tip #3

You can name multiple pets in the trust. If you have a dog, a cat, and an aquarium full of little Nemos and Dorys, they are all covered. Also, the trust remains in effect until the last surviving pet passes away – or for 90 years, whichever comes first.

Tip #4

Name a trustee you can really trust to give your pets the care they deserve. You want someone who will care for the pets as if they were their own – or better. If that’s a concern, you can also name a trust protector to enforce the trust provisions. The court may appoint a trustee if one has not been named or a named trustee is no longer available.

Tip #5

The trust document should state where excess funds go when the last surviving pet passes away. If not, the funds will go to an heir, not of your choosing.

We help our clients develop comprehensive estate plans, including pet trusts in Oklahoma.