Estate Planning: Where Do Pets Fit In?
When you are going through the process of estate planning, remembering to include provisions for :Mittens,” your cat, can often slip your mind. After all, you may just assume that your heirs will take care of your pet like you did. Like most states, Florida has a pet trust law that allow your beloved companion to receive care from your estate after your passing. It is a matter of making sure all your affairs are in order.
First, you need to make sure you have a trustee in place who will take care of the pet after your passing. Name them in a pet trust (after consulting them first, of course). The reason you would choose a pet trust instead of putting it in your will is that it can take weeks or even months for a will to be fully read and processed. A pet trust, on the other hand, can be taken care of almost immediately.
The trustee will then be given funds however you see fit to make sure the pet is taken care of. Because trusts are expensive to create and maintain, it is often recommended to take this route if you are leaving tens of thousands of dollars to the animal. Within this trust should also be instructions. Let the trustee know how to take care of the pet, from food to walks to vet care.
If this is too expensive or time-consuming, consider other arrangements, like a notarized Pet Protection Agreement. Or, if you are leaving your pet to a trusted individual, simply talk things out with them and make sure they understand your wishes — and that they are going to carry them out.
With lives potentially on the line, it is imperative you include any pets in legal documents to make sure they are taken care of after your passing. An attorney can help you with filing documents and other estate administration duties to make sure all of your loved ones are taken care of, even “Mittens.”