Ten Will Provisions For Your Pets
February is Responsible Pet Owners Month. Celebrate by updating your New York Last Will and Testament to make provisions for your pet dog, cat or other companion, including a pet trust.
Under the laws of all 50 states, a pet owner cannot leave any part of his or her estate outright to a pet. However, you may leave a sum of money to the person or trustee designated to care for your pet with a request that the money be used for your pet’s care.
There are ten ways to ensure the proper care of your pets after your death:
(1) Set up a Testamentary Trust in your Will. This allows you to leave your pet to caretakers and set aside funds to be managed and used by a trustee to provide for your pet’s food, care and veterinary needs over its lifetime. If the trustee cannot take physical possession of the pets, another person can be named as the caretaker. The funds in this trust will not actually belong to your pets, but they receive the benefit of the funds.
(2) Conditional bequests are permitted in New York and some other states. Pet owners can make a “conditional bequest” in which both the pet and a sum of money are left to a beneficiary who must use the money for the care of the pet. A conditional bequest has the advantage of requiring the recipient to care for the pet.
(3) Instead of a trust, make a direct bequest to an individual (beneficiary) who agrees to use the funds to care for your pets. Detail your expectations for the care of your pets.
(4) Locate a shelter or humane organization in your area that will find a family to adopt your pets if you cannot find an individual you trust to take your pets.
(5) State in your Will that your pets may not be used for medical research or product testing.
(6) Discuss your plans in advance with the trustees, caretakers, executors and organizations.
(7) Make a significant contribution to the lives of thousands of animals by remembering your favorite animal charity in your Will and save federal and state estate taxes.
(8) Include a no contest clause in your Will to reduce the chance of a challenge to the Will. This clause provides that if a person unsuccessfully challenges a provision in the Will, he or she will not receive under any provision of the Will.
(9) The Will should state that the costs of food, veterinary care, transportation and other expenses incurred by the Executor in caring for your pet should be paid from the estate.
(10)To cover the interim period before letters testamentary are obtained, the Executor should be given copies of all applicable instructions. Advance arrangements should be made to protect your pet between your death and the admission of the Will to probate. Although a Will can make provisions for the care of your pet, the Executor cannot carry out these provisions until the Will has been admitted to probate. The Executor receives authority by the issuance of letters testamentary or preliminary letters testamentary.
Contact a New York estate planning attorney to make sure that your pets are properly provided for in your Will. Planning for the care of your pets in the event you are hospitalized or disabled will be discussed in a future blog.