In Siedentopf Law’s latest video, estate planning and probate attorney Sarah Siedentopf explains how you can protect your pets by including them in your estate plan. (She also brags a little bit about her own dog Spenser, AKA the best dog ever).
TRANSCRIPT: Hi, I’m Sarah Siedentopf. I’m an estate planning and probate attorney in Atlanta, Georgia and I have the very best dog in the world. We will not discuss the fact that he only comes when he feels like it or the fact that he puked in between two cushions on the couch last week. He’s still the best dog. However, if something happens to me, how can I be sure that whoever gets him also believes he’s the best dog? I can’t. But I can make sure that he is actually taken care of. When you’re thinking about estate planning as it pertains to your pets, you’ve got two different options. Well, technically, three options. You can just ignore the problem. But, as animal lovers, we know that you really have two options: a will or a trust. If you leave a gift in your will to the person who is taking your animal, it truly is a gift, meaning as soon as they take it they can do anything they want with it and it does not actually obligate them to keep your pet. Now, we would only leave our pets to people that we trusted. So this may not actually be an issue for you, but it is a reality of dealing with your pet in your will. On the other hand, if you choose a pet trust, it is a little bit more complicated on the front end — trusts tend to be few pages longer than wills — but you make sure that the money you set aside for your pet is actually used for the care of your pet and to compensate the person who is taking care of your pet. And for some people, this is the best option. Of course one dog, versus multiple dogs, versus several kinds of animals can really make a difference in the way you want to plan but the key to estate planning for your pets is to have a plan. Make sure that you do have people who are going to take and love your animals and take care of them regardless of whether there’s money left for that purpose. If you’ve got questions about pets and estate planning, I’d love to talk to you. Thanks.
For more on estate planning for pets, you can read our blog Can I Include My Pets In My Estate Planning?