Estate Planning Isn’t Just For The Elderly

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Can you leave money to a pet in your will?

On Behalf of | Dec 19, 2023 | Estate Planning, Wills & Trusts

When planning for the future, individuals often contemplate how loved ones will share their assets after their passing. According to the World Population Review, 49.7% of New York households consist of at least one animal, so, understandably, these pet owners would be curious whether they can include animal companions in their wills.

Surprisingly, the answer is not as straightforward as one might think.

Viewing pets as property

The law considers pets as property rather than beneficiaries. This point of view means that people cannot leave money directly to their non-human friends in a will. However, they can take other steps to ensure an animal’s well-being.

Creating a pet trust

To provide for pets after their death, owners can consider creating a pet trust. This legal arrangement allows them to set aside funds for the care of their animals. In New York, the law permits the creation of pet trusts, ensuring that someone provides for the pets financially.

Identifying a caregiver

Selecting a responsible caregiver for pets is part of establishing a pet trust. The chosen individual should be willing and able to care for the animals according to instructions.

Allocating funds

In a pet trust, owners can allocate funds for various expenses related to a pet’s care. These expenses may include veterinary bills, grooming, food and any other necessary goods or services. By clearly outlining these provisions, owners provide a roadmap for the caregiver to follow.

Monitoring the trust

It is important to designate someone to oversee the proper execution of the pet trust. This individual, known as the trustee, may or may not also be the caregiver. He or she ensures that funds pay for the intended purposes and that the pets receive the care the owner envisioned.

While you can’t leave money directly to your pets in a will in New York, establishing a pet trust offers a solution that nonprofit organizations such as the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals condone.