When most people sit down with an attorney to write their will, they consider which family heirlooms and other physical objects they'd like to pass on to family members. However, in making plans for minor children, your estate and your assets, it's important not to leave out a very important member of the family -- your pet!
Here are a few reasons why it's important for pet owners to include their pets in their will.
Pets are considered property
Many people may not realize it, but pets are considered a person's property by law. That means if you select a guardian to care for your minor children in your will, your pet wouldn't necessarily go with your children unless you grant the guardian this asset explicitly.
Similarly, if you leave most of your estate to one person, keep in mind that this person will also receive any pets you have if you fail to make any specific provisions stating otherwise.
Choosing the best pet parent
If your pets should outlive you, it's important to consider who would be the best caretaker for them. In some cases, this may not be a relative. For example, if you own a bird and your family members live out of state or are unfamiliar with the animal, they may not be a viable parent for your pet.
Once you've decided who would be the most sensible choice to care for your animal, you should discuss the prospect with them and be sure to get their permission before updating your will.
Covering the expense of pets
You may know which of your beneficiaries would be happy to care for your pet. However, you should also consider whether this person will have the financial means to do it. If, for example, your beneficiary has more children in the future or enters an unstable career, your animal could be sacrificed to a humane society.
To avoid this, you can set up a trust for your pet that allocates the new pet owner funds to cover the cost of food, medical appointments, dog-walker fees, grooming and more. This can also help your beneficiary feel more confident about the potential of taking on this new responsibility.