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Providing For Pets In Your Estate Plan

pet owner with pet - adding pets in estate planning

A recent Chewy commercial shows three siblings sitting in front of a lawyer as he reads the terms of their parent’s trust. As they eagerly ask who gets the beach house, the lawyer comically states that it goes to Mr. Marbles, the cat. The commercial is meant to be satirical, but it is not uncommon for individuals to worry about providing for their beloved pets. An estate plan can include instructions and provisions for that scenario.

Can You Leave an Inheritance to Your Pet in Naples?

Under Florida law, pets are considered property. Property cannot own property, so it is impossible to gift money or assets to a pet directly in your estate plan. However, you can create a pet trust. In the trust, you can name your pet as a beneficiary of the trust income. You must designate a trustee to manage the trust assets for the benefit of your pet. Typically, this will be the new owner who will adopt and care for your pet upon your death. The terms of the trust can provide care instructions, such as medical care, dietary concerns, and other particulars such as enjoyable activities that your pets should participate in.  The trustee has a legal obligation to honor the terms of your trust and use the funds exclusively to care for your pet.

The trust ends when the pet dies. In the trust, you should state what the trustee should do with any money left over when the animal passes away.

Transfer Ownership of a Pet in Your Naples Estate Plan

Because pets are considered property under Florida law, you can transfer ownership of your animal through your will. Before picking a beneficiary, you should speak to family and friends to learn who is willing and able to adopt your pet. You should name a backup owner, just in case your first choice cannot adopt your pet as planned.

If you don’t have a pet trust, you can gift a portion of your estate to the pet’s new owner to help them with the costs of caring for your pet. However, when you leave the new owner an inheritance through your will, you have no control over how they can use the funds. They are not legally required to spend the money on your pet.

Call Naples Estate Planning Lawyer James Nici

If you have questions about providing for your pet in your estate plan or any of the many aspects of estate planning, you should contact the Nici Law Firm. James Nici is an experienced Naples estate planning attorney with over 25 years of experience. He is well-versed in all estate planning issues and will not be surprised by your wishes. A good estate plan takes into consideration how you want to provide for the people – and pets – you love.

By the way if you wish to leave your estate to a charity such as the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), Attorney Nici can help you explore how to do that.

Whatever you want, we can create an estate plan that fits your needs. Contact our office today at (239) 449-6150 or use our web form to set up a free consultation.

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