Americans who care deeply about their dogs, cats and other pets may be concerned about what will happen if those pets outlive them. Owners may hope that their surviving family members will keep their pets or find good homes for them, but there is no guarantee of that happening. The pets may be forced into animal shelters, with the possibility that they will be euthanized if they don’t get adopted.
Fortunately, pet owners in Connecticut have an opportunity to protect pets that survive them by including the pets in their estate planning. One way you can do this is by devoting a section of your will to the subject of how your pets should be handled, such as leaving the pet to a trusted friend or relative as caregiver. You may supplement this bequest with information and instructions on how to care for the pet, including living conditions, diet, medical issues and special needs. These instructions can be given either in the will itself or in a separate document provided to the designated caregiver.
Another option is to set up a pet trust. This method can be suitable if you don’t have anyone willing to take care of the pet for free or if your pet’s needs are complicated or expensive. Creating a pet trust requires naming a trustee and placing enough money into the trust to pay for the pet’s needs for the remainder of its life, including veterinary, food and other living expenses. The trust funds should also include compensation for the trustee and anyone else helping to care for the pet. The trustee will be charged with deciding how the money is spent but need not be the caregiver. You may appoint a separate pet guardian to fulfill that role, if you deem that advisable.
An estate planning attorney can help you draw up the necessary paperwork for you based on careful consideration of your pet’s needs. Before naming your preferred successive owner, trustee, guardian or other caregiver, make sure that they understand what is involved and are willing to undertake the responsibility.
Gesmonde, Pietrosimone & Sgrignari, L.L.C. provides a full range of estate planning services to Connecticut residents. Please call 203-745-0942 or contact us online to schedule a consultation in our East Haven or Hamden office.
Gesmonde, Pietrosimone & Sgrignari, L.L.C. is located in Hamden, CT and serves clients in and around North Haven, Hamden, Waterbury, Bethany, Milford, Wallingford, Prospect, Woodbridge, Northford, Madison, Beacon Falls, Branford, Cheshire, North Branford, East Haven, Naugatuck, Meriden, Ansonia and New Haven County.
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