Pet ownership has increased significantly over the past decades. Whether you have dogs, cats or other kinds of pets, it is clear that they truly become part of the family, and we have grown to be a pet-loving culture in the United States.
According to Forbes, as of 2023, 66% of U.S. households own a pet. That’s almost 90 million homes. Not surprisingly, many people want to include their pets in their estate plans because their animals have become like family, and they want to protect them if they cannot care for them.
Can animals be included in my estate plan?
The law considers pets property. However, you can include your furry friends in your estate plan, ensure that someone cares for them if anything happens to you, and even ensure they receive care until their natural death. Of course, animals cannot care for themselves. Therefore, you must choose one or several people who are willing and able to care for them.
When including your pet in your estate plan, there are essential factors to consider and things you should do to materialize your wishes and make them official.
- Decide how much money to allocate for your pet. Consider how much money it costs to care for them and their expenses and develop a realistic budget.
- Choose a person or several people who are willing and able to care for your animal. Once you have their consent and ensure they will truly follow through with the commitment, name them in your will as the people you have chosen to care for your pet. You can also include specific details, such as whether you want to compensate your pet’s designated caregiver.
- Put everything in writing and review it several times. When you have finalized your will, make copies and put them in a safe place. Also, ensure you share a copy with your attorney if you have one.
Thinking about being without your pet may bring up uncomfortable feelings. Still, it is essential to do this when you are capable to ensure that someone will care for your pet when you can no longer. After doing this, you may feel more at ease knowing your pet will be safe and in good hands.