Your pet is a member of your family but is legally considered your property. Many people are concerned about including companion pets as part of their estate plan so they are taken care of and not forgotten. What if you become ill or incapacitated and can no longer care for a beloved pet? What if you die before your pet? Caring for your pets is one of the most over-looked parts of your estate plan.
Responsible pet owners want to provide for their pets to ensure they continue to be cared for if something happens to them. Unfortunately, verbal promises are often forgotten or are not respected. Long-term or permanent care for your pet should be formally included as part of your estate planning in your legal will or trust. Your will provides for your pet after your death, while a trust can provide for a pet if you become permanently or temporarily incapacitated.
Illinois law gives you the option of creating a pet trust, a legal arrangement to care for your pet. The Pet Trust Act permits people in Illinois to create trusts for the benefit of one or more of their companion animals through their estate plans:
Concerned pet owners can now set aside funds for the care of their animals, and can designate a trustee to manage the fund for the care, support and medical needs of their pets. They also can name the physical custodian of their pet.
Name which pets are to be cared for, such as my dog Woof.
Ask someone you respect and trust to care for your pet when you are no longer able to. Make sure the potential caregiver and your pet have regular time to bond together so
It’s a good idea to have a backup caregiver, in the event that something happens to your 1st choice.
It’s expensive to care for pets, particularly aging pets. Make sure your designated caregiver has the necessary funds to care for your pet as you would.
State what is to be done with any remaining money after your pet dies.
Ask your estate planning attorney to include your pet care as part of your will or pet trust, or to create another legal document to provide for the care and ownership of your pet and the money necessary to care for your pet.
Make sure your estate documents include the information necessary to care for your pet, such as medical records, veterinary, food and any special needs.
To provide for your pet when you no longer can, it’s a good idea to make a legal arrangement in your will or a pet trust. An experienced estate planning attorney can help you ensure your pet is cared for when you no longer can.
For help setting up a pet trust or for other estate planning assistance, contact the experienced estate planning attorneys at Estate and Probate Legal Group at 630-800-0112.