Guiding You Through Life's Storms

Preparing your Estate for your 4-legged children

by | Nov 21, 2022 | Elder Law, Estate Planning

We recently added a new face to the Marshall tribe; his name is Gizmo, a beautiful 10-year Brussels Griffon mix who found himself in a precarious situation after his first owner became quite ill.  His owner had not planned for these circumstances and Gizmo found himself in a high-risk shelter until Poodle and Pooch Rescue of Florida rescued him.

Pets are such a blessing in our lives and provide us with unconditional love and they should be here to enrich our lives whether we are 9 or 99. With a little planning we can be sure that we don’t leave them helpless when they are mourning the loss of their parent whether it be through illness or death.  No matter the size of your estate you can still put a plan in place that will support your furry loved ones by following these few steps:

  1. Decide who should be your pet’s guardian. Family members are not always the ones that want or can take on your pet.  Take an inventory or friends and family and determine who would be best suited to the needs of furry friend.  We have a dear friend that has a huge heart and has rescued many dogs that we have chosen to take our pets if something happened to us.  It does not always have to be a friend or family member, perhaps your veterinarian or a rescue group.
  2. What type of care does your pet(s) need. Now that you have determined who you feel is best suited to care for your furry friend, it is time to assess what type of care they need.  What is the age of your pet?  Are they on any medications? Do they have a special diet?  These questions can help assess what you might need to set aside for your pet in your estate.  If your pet is young with lots of years ahead of them you might want to put aside more for their care.  If they are elderly and taking medication and only have a few years left, that can impact your overall plan as well.
  3. Have the conversation. Before you formalize your plan, and after you have thought about the care your pet(s) may need, you then need to talk to the person or people that you feel would be best suited to provide the care for your pet when you become unable or have passed away.  Having a conversation like this is never easy but you want to be sure that the person you feel is right is on the same page and if they can take on the role.  After considering the care your pet needs you can let them know that a pet trust will be set up for your pet to help offset the extra costs that the person my take on. If you have chosen a rescue for your furry loved one you can imagine that he/she may be adopted sooner having a trust that they can draw upon to offset the additional costs the adopter is taking on.
  4. Call your Attorney. Once you have decided who can be your pet’s guardian, an amount that you would set aside for your pet’s care, and you have had the conversation with that guardian and know they are ready and willing to accept the responsibility, it is time to call your attorney. You attorney can then discuss with you how to properly set up your pet trust as part of your estate plan.  Once everything as been established he/she can then make sure your wishes are honored if necessary and help guide your guardian through those times.

Although a pet trust does not guarantee your pet will not go through difficult times, it can guarantee a quicker resolution to issues that arise and a better quality of life for your pet.  If you want to know more about pet trust, give us a call at Marshall Law, P.A. for a free consultation so we can help you decide if a Pet Trust is the best way to ensure your four-legged family member lives a happy, healthy, and wholesome life.