An image showing a woman with her dog, engaged in paperwork, offering estate planning advice for pet owners. - Legacy Law CentersIn this article, you can discover…

How Can I Ensure That My Pets Are Cared For?

In the State of Virginia, there is a legal avenue called a “pet trust code.” This allows for the pet to be entrusted to a reliable and attentive caregiver and for a certain amount of money to be entrusted to care for the animal for the rest of its life.

This is commonly done for dogs (but can include other types of animals, as well) and involves calculating yearly expenses for pet care by the estimated number of years remaining in your pet’s life.

For example, say you have a 10-year-old labrador retriever whom you’d like to provide for. The average lifespan for a lab is about 15 years. This means planning for five years of care for your animal.

Multiply your pet’s monthly expenses by 12 for their annual expenses. Multiply annual expenses for your lab by five and set aside that amount for his care and wellbeing.

Should I Leave Everything To My Pet?

Various millionaires over the years, such as Ben Rea and Leona Helmsley, have left sizable amounts of money for trusts that care for their pets. In reality, after the death of the pet the money is often sought by contingent heirs.

It’s more realistic and financially wiser to set aside a more reasonable amount of money to help care for your pet’s annual food, care, and medical expenses for the remainder of its lifespan.

How Should I Navigate Leaving Assets To My Pet In Light Of Complex Family Ties?

If you’re struggling with angry or painful family relationships, what should you do? It may be tempting to leave your entire estate to a beloved pet instead of a difficult family. But it’s legally more prudent to have an objective series of conversations with your estate attorney about that your estate might be divided.

The same is true of making an to disinherit someone entirely. In both cases, your will is likely to be contested immediately after you’ve passed, which leaves a complex and difficult journey ahead for surviving family members.

However, there are legally successful ways to exclude certain people from an estate plan if you wish. This can involve crafting a very specific trust, e.g., money could be entrusted to a grand-nephew’s college fund in ways that exclude an estranged niece from accessing it for herself.

These sorts of conversations can take time, and a skilled estate attorney can help you draft a trust or a will that takes into account your wishes, complex family relationships, and your estate planning needs as a single person with a pet.

For more information on Estate Planning For Single Clients With Pets, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (571) 260-0827 today.

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