Should You Include Pets in Your Estate Planning?

When estate planning, it’s important to think through all the people who matter most to you—and in some cases, these people aren’t actually people at all! For the countless Americans who are deeply devoted to their four-legged friends, and consider them to be full-fledged family members, it’s worth wondering whether pet care should be part of the estate planning process.

Is it Necessary to Include Pets in Your Estate Plan?

The short answer: It’s up to you. You may have a spouse, child, neighbor, or close friend who would be more than willing to take custody of your pets should anything ever happen to you. So long as you communicate this, it’s unlikely to be a problem.

Then again, there are certainly instances of pets not being taken care of following an owner’s death, and also of various survivors fighting over the chance to take in a beloved family animal. As such, it may be worth your time to take a few basic steps to include pets in your estate planning.

Tips for Including Pets in Your Estate Plan

A few quick pointers:

Arrange for someone to become your pet’s new caretaker, should anything ever happen to you. Communicate this to the person and make sure you have an understanding; also communicate it to your family members and close friends, ensuring there is no uncertainty about your wishes. Putting it in writing never hurts.
For that arranged caretaker, write down your pet’s care routine, the name and contact information for the vet, and any medications or medical treatments that your pet receives.
Talk to your attorney about preparing a Durable Power of Attorney, authorizing funds from your estate to be used to provide medical care or supplies for your pet should you somehow become incapacitated.
Talk to your estate planning lawyer about including your pets in your Last Will and Testament—something that is usually possible, but may look a bit different from one state to the next.

Not all pet owners will necessarily feel the need to include pets in their estate planning—but certainly, it’s worth thinking about your animal buddies, and knowing that there are some options available.

For any questions about the financial dimensions of estate planning, don’t hesitate to contact the Stonepath Wealth Management team today.