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Pets and Estate Planning re: Pet Trusts

Anyone who has not felt the sadness and loss from the death of a pet either has never owned a pet or is devoid of humanity. My three pound Yorkie, Bella (technically, my daughter's dog, but you know how that works), had neurological issues that affected her ability to see and walk from birth. But Bella had a happy and spoiled life until she succumbed to organ failure at nine years old. Her perseverance and disproportionately sized personality in the face of her special needs only endeared her more to her family.

So I can relate to clients who, planning their estates, say: "And one more thing. How do I take care of my pet?"

Some states, such as Virginia, allow formal trusts for pets. I have created "pet trusts" for clients, but those are typically more involved and provide for horses or a group of pets requiring much attention and resources. When there is a family pet or two, most often it is as simple as identifying the family member or friend who will care for the pet, and perhaps leaving a modest sum to the caregiver.

For some clients, pets and animals are the most important beneficiaries of their estate plan. For many of us, pets need to be considered in the estate plan, either formally or informally.

Bella, R.I.P.

© 2020 Odin, Feldman & Pittleman, P.C.National Law Review, Volume V, Number 62


About this Author

John P. Dedon, Tax, Estate Planning, Attorney, Odin Feldman Pittleman, Law Firm

John Dedon is a tax lawyer with a talent for explaining the complexities of tax law in lay terms.  Working in the estate planning, asset protection and business areas for almost 30 years, John helps clients preserve assets and plan for the future with traditional planning tools, including Trusts (dynasty trusts, intentionally defective trusts, grantor retained annuity trusts), LLC and partnership entities, and cutting edge concepts such as cryonic preservation trusts.  John also works extensively in the charitable area, creating public and private charities, remainder and lead trusts...