For those who believe that pet trusts are only for wealthy and senile individuals, this sentiment is gradually changing across America. In fact, more people are making provisions in their wills for family dogs and cats to be cared for in the event their owners passed away or became incapacitated. The American Pet Products Association reported that last year, 9 percent of pet owners included provisions in their wills to ensure that their cats and dogs were cared for. This was an increase compared to the number of people who did so in 2010.
Indeed, the stories of Leona Helmsley leaving $12 million to her dog and Alexander McQueen bequeathing $16 million to his dogs may provide the belief that only the rich may afford to leave money for the care of pets, but given that 68 percent of Americans own a pet, this is destined to change. A number of factors support this prospect. First, the growth of pet care retailers such as Petco, PetSmart and PetCare Rx, suggest that people with average incomes will continue to care for their pets.
Also, as more people create estate plans, they are learning that pet trusts are needed in order to adequately provide for their pets in the event the pet owner passes away. Essentially, they know that pets, as a matter of law, cannot receive money directly even if provided for in a will, since a dog or cat is considered property under the law.
If you have questions about pet trusts work, an experienced estate planning attorney can assist you.
Source: WSJ.com, “More Americans are writing their pets into their wills,” Anne Tergesen, January 12, 2014