An estate plan that includes your faithful friends

Animal companions care can be ensured by remembering them in your estate.

Estate planning is always a difficult subject. No one, even estate planning attorneys, wants to consider the prospect of their own demise. However, because it is inevitable, it is an important task for everyone and the sooner you begin the process the easier it is to deal effectively with all of the details that need to be encompassed with a comprehensive estate plan.

For those with pets, one issue you may want to take care of within your estate plan is how to provide for your pets after you are gone. For many elderly individuals, whose children may be scattered across the nation, or who never had children, their companion animals, such as dogs or cats, often mean the world to them. Designing an estate plan to ensure the care of their faithful companions after years of service can provide their owners with great peace of mind.

The flexible trust instrument

In the technical language of a probate court, dogs and cats are "personal property." The court will treat them like a piece of furniture or jewelry. Because of this, they are not allowed to inherit from the estate. Instead, you can create a trust that contains assets that will provide for their care, feeding and upkeep.

Trusts are tremendously flexible legal instruments and can serve many purposes within an estate plan. The trust is supervised by a trustee, who could be a trusted family member or friend or you could use a corporate trustee.

Another element of this would be to provide instructions for the caregiver selected, and the instructions should be adequately detailed, such as indicating how frequently the animals should receive veterinary care and any other special needs.

Keep it current

You should also provide information that is current and updated on your animals, to ensure that they are cared for immediately after your passing. If you have to go to the hospital or other care facility, you want to be sure that your animals do not wind up abandoned in your home.

Those without animals may find this topic somewhat silly, but to many pet owners, their animals are vitally important to their everyday happiness, and they would be devastated to think that their dog or cat could end up uncared for and awaiting euthanasia at an animal shelter.

For the elderly, companion animals may provide a great deal of comfort and solace. Their loyalty is unyielding and studies have shown that they provide a psychological boost for their humans.

Speaking with an attorney and discussing with them the care you want your animals to receive can ensure that your trusted companions are properly cared for and this act allows you to return the comfort they provided.