Estate Pet Planning Services

Nevada Estate Pet Planning

For most people, a primary estate planning goal is ensuring that family members are provided for in the event of death or incapacity. Deciding who you wish to protect and provide for within your estate plan may appear to be the easiest part of accomplishing this goal; however, you may have inadvertently overlooked an important member of the family – your pet. If so, you are not alone. Pets are frequently overlooked in a Nevada estate planning because people are not aware it is possible to include a pet, they don’t think it’s necessary, or they are unsure how to include a pet. The good news is that the Nevada pet planning attorneys at Anderson, Dorn & Rader, Ltd. can help you incorporate pet into your overall estate plan. We are here to give you peace of mind when you know exactly how your pet will be cared for if you are unable to provide that care yourself at some point in the future.
estate pet planning

Is Your Pet Part of the Family?

Americans have a unique relationship with animals in that we truly consider pets to be part of the family. Americans are number one worldwide for both dog and cat ownership. In fact, we have twice as many dogs as the number two country (Brazil) and 50 percent more cats than the next closest country (China). We also love to spoil our pets, spending $50 billion on our pets annually. Have you ever bought your pet a birthday present? If so, you are among the one in three Americans who admit to doing so. How about paying for professional photographs of your pet? One in four Americans loves their pet enough to want professionals photos. If your pet is a member of the family, shouldn’t you provide for your pet in your estate plan?
estate pet planning

Why Is Nevada Estate Pet Planning Important?

You undoubtedly take very good care of your family pet. You make sure he/she is fed well, groomed regularly, and taken to the veterinarian for check-ups on a yearly basis. Who will do this if you are unable to at some point? Sadly, about half a million pets wind up in shelters every year following the death of their owner. Family members may be unwilling or unable to care for the pet. Sometimes a pet simply gets overlooked in the confusion that follows a death. Don’t let a lack of planning be the reason your beloved pet ends up in a shelter.

How can I include my pet in my estate plan?

There are several ways in which your family pet can be included in your comprehensive estate plan; however, a pet trust is by far the best option. Simply verbalizing your wishes to a chosen caregiver is not enough to protect your pet. The intended caregiver could be unavailable when the time comes to take over the care of your pet or could change his/her mind and be unwilling to take on the responsibility. In addition, a verbal agreement does not allow you to financially provide for your pet nor does it ensure that specific wishes with regard to your pet’s care and maintenance will be honored.

Including your pet in your Last Will and Testament is also an option; however, it too has flaws. While you can legally “gift” your pet to a chosen caregiver in your Will, that caregiver is not obligated to accept the “gift.” Your Will can also be used to leave funds to a prospective caregiver to help cover the financial burden of caring for your pet. There is no assurance though that the funds will be used as intended. In fact, once a gift is made in a Will, the assets gifted become the property of the beneficiary to do with as he/she pleases. There is no guarantee that the beneficiary will use those funds for your pet’s care and maintenance nor any legal recourse available if they are not used as intended. Finally, including your pet in your Will does not cover the possibility of your own incapacity. The provisions you make in your Will are only applicable after your death. Therefore, your pet remains a risk in the event of your incapacity.

A pet trust alleviates the concerns and drawbacks of using a verbal agreement or a Will to plan for your pet’s care. Like all trusts, a pet trust allows you to appoint someone as the Trustee of the trust. The Trustee of your trust is legally obligated to use the utmost care when managing the trust assets and to follow the trust terms just as you wrote them. You will also be able to fund the trust with sufficient assets to provide for your pet’s care and maintenance in your absence. A pet trust offers both a Trustee’s oversight and the ability to enforce the terms of the trust in court if necessary should a problem arise. Moreover, the terms you create can provide detailed instructions for your pet’s care. If your dog only likes one type of dog food, you can require the caregiver to only feed that brand of food. If your cat likes a specific groomer, you can require that groomer to be used. Best of all, a pet trust works both in the event of your death and your incapacity, ensuring that your beloved family pet is protected anytime you are unable to provide for your pet yourself.

Contact a Reno Nevada Estate Pet Planning Attorney Today

Your estate plan should protect and provide for all your family members, including the four-legged ones. The Reno pet planning attorneys at Anderson, Dorn & Rader, Ltd. understand how important your family pet is to you and we are committed to ensuring that your pet is included in your comprehensive estate plan. Give us a call at (775) 823-9455 or contact us online today.

Estate Pet Planning FAQ

Why would a senior citizen want to get a pet so late in life?

This is a good question, because there are responsibilities that go along with pet ownership. However, in some instances, a fine furry friend can make a huge positive difference in the lives of seniors but this means that Reno pet planning is essential.

An elder can feel a sense of loneliness after losing their spouse, other relatives, and friends. There is no substitute for these losses, but a dog or a cat can certainly provide some much-needed companionship.

In addition to the four-legged friend factor, there are other positives. A senior citizen can feel a renewed sense of purpose when they have to care for a pet, and this can be invaluable. Dogs need to go out for walks, and this can give an older pet owner a reason to get more exercise.

The trips to the park or the dog park can also be a way of socializing with other people. In addition to the physical benefits of exercise, researchers have found that pet ownership can improve mental health as well.

That makes sense, but from an estate planning perspective, can you leave someone a pet in your will?

Yes, you can legally do this, because the pet would be looked upon as your property. Of course, you don’t want to surprise anyone with a canine or feline bequest. If you want to go this route, you should be sure that the person that you have in mind is willing to care for the animal.

From a financial perspective, you could leave this individual a direct bequest with the understanding that the money will be used to care for the pet in certain ways.

However, at the end of the day, the human inheritor would own the pet and the money. There would be nothing stopping this person doing whatever they want to do with either.

Another thing to think about when it comes to this approach to pet planning is the amount of money that is bequeathed to the caretaker. If the pet dies shortly after you do, the caretaker would be in possession of assets that you could have transferred to someone else.

Is there a better pet planning solution?

Many would say that a pet trust would be a far better idea. If you establish and fund this type of trust for the benefit of your pet, you would name a trustee to act as the administrator.

In the trust declaration, you could leave detailed instructions about the way that you want the pet be cared for, and the trustee would be legally compelled to follow them. It should be noted that the trustee does not necessarily have to be the individual that will act as the pet’s caretaker.

When it comes to assets that may be left in the trust after the pet passes away, there is a very simple solution. You can name a successor beneficiary when you establish the trust, and this individual or entity would assume ownership of the remainder.
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