From companion dogs to award winning horses to cats that are a business asset, people often want to ensure their pets are cared for after their death. Choupette Lagerfeld, a Birman cat, inherited a significant sum in the millions when Karl Lagerfeld died earlier this year. Even individuals with much smaller estates want to ensure beloved pets are comfortable and cared for after their death. This is accomplished either by bequeathing the pet to someone in your will or setting up a pet trust.
Bequeathing Your Pet
Perhaps the simplest solution is to leave a long-lived pet to a friend or family member who will care for them. You can simply include this as a bequest in your will by stating who you would like to inherit your pet and any of your pet’s paraphernalia. You can also include a small monetary bequest to cover the pet’s expenses.
It’s important to note that animals cannot own property, so you can’t simply leave money to your parrot. After all, even the most talkative parrot needs someone to make sure their cage is clean, their food is nutritious, and they see the vet on a regular basis. If you include a clause in your will leaving gifts of money or property to an animal, then that gift will most likely lapse and instead follow the residual clauses of your will or your Utah’s intestacy laws.
Setting up a Pet Trust
Another option is setting up a Utah pet trust. Much like a traditional trust, you can put assets into the trust including real and personal property, securities, and cash. You can then name a trusted friend, family member, or even pet care facility to take care of your pet. Setting up a trust also gives you the ability to name one person the trustee to manage the assets and another the responsibility for pet care. The trust can then benefit one or multiple pets.
In the pet trust, you can provide guidance on how the funds are spent. Smaller trusts may include funds for food and vet care. A trust as large as the one Choupette will likely inherit will probably allow her personal assistant, caregiver, and two maids to draw a salary.
If you have a beloved pet or care for an animal that is especially long-lived, you probably want to consider including a pet trust in your estate. An experienced trust and estate planning attorney like the team at Dunn Law Firm will work with you to ensure your estate plan is comprehensive and covers a variety of possible scenarios, including care for a pet you predecease. To learn more, reach out to the Dunn Law Firm by calling (435) 628-5405 to set up a free consultation today.