I wanna leave some money for my pets after I pass away to make sure they’re properly taken care of. Is there a way to calculate that and figure out how much I need to leave? I’m Sarah Siedentopf. I’m an estate planning and probate attorney in Atlanta, Georgia, and this is a question I get fairly regularly, because, you know, we work with a lot of pet owners, pet lovers.
So how do you go about deciding how much to give? And no, there is not a great calculation that I’m aware of that you can always plug in, but the first thing that I think about when I’m working with clients is, who is getting the pets? And if you say, you know, they’re definitely going to my sister, she’s financially stable, you know, it’s not gonna be any difficulty on her to pay vet bills, something like that, you don’t necessarily have to give anything, but you can easily choose a flat number and say, okay, you know, 5,000 per pet, or 2000 per pet, or something that is a chosen number, not exactly related to what you assume their care is going to be, but more as a thank you, I realize this will cost you money.
I’ve also had clients who say, you know, we think that, you know, this type of animal has a yearly age expectancy of, you know, say 15, and we would like to have, you know, $2,500 per year that they are under that age. So if I pass away, my dog is 10, we’ve got, you know, a five year life expectancy, you know, then we’d like to give, $2,500 a year for, you know, a usually I encourage a lump sum, so a calculation, because we don’t wanna keep an estate open holding onto money, just paying for pet care in tiny drips if that’s the only reason.
But that’s another way of looking at it. And it can often be, if you really want to think about it that way, figuring out, okay, how much do I pay for pet food? How much do I pay for vet bills? And maybe, you know, index it a little for inflation and assume there will be a few more vet visits as your pet ages. But those are the two most common ways that people look at it. And then of course, you know, I said, you know, we start by looking at, you know, the financial situation of the person who’s getting the pets. If you’re giving them to someone who does not have the same financial stability, maybe you wanna give more to make sure that your pet is taken care of, and maybe you want to set it up in a pet trust because the outright gift is an outright gift.
And if they don’t use it on taking your pet, you know, to the vet and they don’t use it on buying the good quality pet food, they don’t have to. So if you are concerned that your pet be taken care of and that there be financial resources, it’s not an answer to the calculation, but we can set up a pet trust. We have somebody over it saying, you know, giving out the money saying this is for this pet. And then at the end if we’ve, say we’ve put aside, $15,000, $20,000 for this pet who didn’t live that long, and you know, we’ve got $10,000, $12,000 left over, then it goes wherever you say it goes, to your other beneficiaries to a charity, and you don’t have to worry about an exact calculation. You can sort of round up.
I’m always happy to hear from pet owners about how they’ve thought about these things because we are always trying to figure out the best way for people. But those are the ways that I tend to think about it. If you’ve got questions, I’d love to hear from you and please like and subscribe.