Planning for Pooches (or Cats, Turtles, Birds, etc.)

July 14, 2017

Let me start with a hypothetical. I and my wife, Brittany, are traveling over the summer. Possibly, we are enjoying a beach in Florida or maybe some cooler air in Colorado. All of the sudden, tragedy strikes. Our pets, Arnold and Sally the Frenchies, are left at home in limbo between a mix of family members, friends, and neighbors. If your pets are anything like ours, they aren’t exactly low maintenance and they certainly aren’t cheap. This article is what you NEED TO KNOW about planning for your pets at death.

Five tried and true methods exist for planning for pets. Here they are ranked from best to worst for your reading pleasure.

  1. Pet Trust created under a Will
    • Pros
      • Statutorily Approved in Texas
      • Tailored to your wishes
      • Can be extremely detailed
    • Cons
      • Must be in a valid Will
      • Slightly more complicated to set up
  2. Bequest to Named Individual in Will
    • Pros
      • Simple
      • Can be detailed if followed
      • Specific amount or percentage of Estate
    • Cons
      • No guarantee that money is used for pets
  3. Bequest to Caretaker at Discretion of Executor
    • Pros
      • Gives the Executor flexibility depending on the pet and the caregiver
      • Flexibility as to amount depending on the pet (see: Arnold and Sally, aka money vacuums)
    • Cons
      • Executor may or may not understand needs of the Pet
      • Person selected may not be a good fit for caregiving
  4. Bequest to Charity with conditional language
    • Pros
      • Avoids complexity of Trust included in Will
      • Double benefit of pet protection and charitable gift
    • Cons
      • Charity might dissolve
      • Trusting your pets to strangers
  5. Creation of Inter Vivos (between living people) Trust for Pets
    • Pros
      • You dictate terms of Trust and amount gifted to Trust
      • Guarantees the Trust is funded before your death
    • Cons
      • Trust accounting and separate accounts
      • Added expense of Trust creation

If you have questions about planning for your pets or even your family members, be sure to give the Weaver Firm, PC a call at (817) 638-2022 or send me an email at TWeaver@weaverlegal.net. No pets or lawyers were harmed in this photo.

Posted in Legal Tips Today - Travis Weaver.