Cats and dogs are no longer viewed as just pets that hang around the house. Increasingly, pet owners are treating their beloved animals as members of the family. Even a quick scroll through popular social media platforms will yield dozens of photos of pets with cute titles marking their statuses, such as “fur baby” and more. But what happens if an owner outlives their pet? Estate planning can answer that question.
Florida owners who want to make sure that their animal is cared for in the event of their own passing should be sure to utilize available estate planning tools, such as wills and trusts. Individuals can use a will to leave their pet to a designated caretaker. Like with selecting guardians for children, pet owners should be sure to talk to the person they have chosen to act as caretaker first to be certain that they are on board with the plan. Most people also leave instructions — such as favorite food and preferred veterinarian — along with funds to cover some of the pet’s future care.
While wills are great tools, some people prefer to use trusts when setting things up for their pet. Trusts give owners greater reach over the future care of their pets, including making sure that the caretaker utilizes the trust’s money properly. In these situations, owners usually designate a separate caretaker and manager for the trust, leaving one with the responsibility of physically caring for the dog and the other with managing the money for its care.
There is little denying the immense joy that pets bring to their owners. Many people assume that their surviving family members will have the same connection with their animal and step up to care for it, but this is not always the case. The best way for pet owners in Florida to ensure that their pet is well-cared for is to address these issues during estate planning.