Our clients come to us for Estate Planning help because they want to make sure their loved ones are taken care of. But what if your loved ones don’t walk upright on two feet – some loved ones are furry and walk on four paws or hooves! According to the Humane Society, up to 500,000 beloved pets are sent to shelters every year after their owners pass away without a plan in place.
Most clients want to ensure that their pets are taken care of after they pass away. They just don’t know where to start. Sometimes they make a reference to a pet in a Will. In your Will, you can leave ownership of your pet to a family member or friend. However, a simple Will distributes property outright. That means at your passing, a Will doesn’t allow you to make provisions for your pet’s care. With a Will there is no way to prevent your pet’s new owner from simply giving the pet to a shelter, or spending money intended for the pet’s care on other things. Further, Wills are administered through your county’s Probate Court. You poor pet may be in limbo until the Will is offered for probate and administered through the court, which takes months in Ohio.
Ohio law allows for the creation of a plan to provide care for your animals. Unlike a Will, which is only effective after your death, a Pet Trust is valid from its creation until the death of the pet. This type of planning ensures that your pet is taken care of in the event you are unable to care for the pet due to death or incapacitation. A Pet Trust also allows you to control the distribution of the assets in the trust, so that you can ensure the money is being used for your pet’s care.
The best way to ensure that your pets will be taken care of in the event of your incapacitation or passing is with a Pet Trust or similar contract for the care of your pets. If you have questions about including your pets in your Estate Plan, contact AlerStallings at 1-877-912-3464 today to set up an appointment.