By Jeffrey R. Wolfe, Senior Vice President, Manager of Wealth Planning Strategies
As we continue National Estate Planning Awareness week it’s time to consider your fuzzy family members. I’m not talking about your unique uncle, though, I’m talking about your pet. People love their animals, sometimes more than their human family. Historically, though, the law considered pets “property” that had to be disposed of similar to a couch or a ring. Accordingly, you couldn’t require someone to care for a pet upon your passing, rather you could only leave the pet and perhaps some cash to someone with the aspiration, but not the obligation, to care for your pet.
Recently, however, the phenomena of “Pet Trusts” is changing the landscape. Many states now allow trusts to be created to care for pets, with the trustee having the legal obligation to follow the terms of the trust. Often the trust sets aside cash to care for the pet, typically enough to cover food, vet bills, training, etc. Upon the pet’s death the trust funds can pass to the caregiver, or you can consider naming a charity like the Humane Society or the like.
For many, confirming that pets will be taken care of upon one’s passing is essential. Speak with your legal counsel to confirm whether Pet Trusts are allowed in your jurisdiction. Doing so can ensure Fido’s remaining days will be good ones.
This piece is intended to provide accurate information regarding the subject matter discussed. It is made available with the understanding that Benjamin F. Edwards & Co. is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or tax preparation services. Specific questions on taxes or legal matters as they relate to your individual situation should be directed to your tax or legal professional.