Although it never feels the way for us, in Florida, pets are considered tangible personal property – that is pets are considered “things.” Of course they are so much more to us than our things. They are our family, our babies, our friends.
Estate Planning for your Pets
Caring for your pets after you pass is an important part of your estate plan. For instance, my ninety-one year old friend just bought a puppy(!). She was feeling lonely after her last dog passed away, and instantly fell in love with her new little pup, Biscuit. She now has a little puppy that she is working on trying to potty train, who she takes for walks, and he is giving her new energy.
Some important questions though for my friend to consider now that she has a young pup:
- Who she wants as a caretaker for Biscuit if she passes away before he does?
- Does she want to leave the Caretaker any money for caring for Biscuit?
- Are there any parameters for that money?
- Does the Caretaker get the money outright or is it held in a trust to make sure that the money is only being used for Biscuit’s care?
- What happens to the rest of the money if it is held in trust when Biscuit passes away?
Depending on the answers to these questions, there may be many more follow up questions.
The important thing to realize though is that if you do not have any plan in place for your pets, your personal representative is going to have to find a home for the pet and not be able to provide any money to the Caretaker for your furry friend’s food, health, and general care.
Pooled Pet Trust
Finally, there are organizations, such as the SPCA Tampa Bay, that have pooled pet trusts set up already to help care for your pet if you should pass away.
A pooled pet trust is much like it sounds where all of the money received into the Pooled Pet Trust is ‘pooled’ together and used for the benefit of the animals and to defer the costs of running such a Trust. Usually, when the pet passes away, the money is then donated to the non-profit organziation or is used for adminitration expenses. If you are interested in a pooled pet trust or have received information on a Florida pooled pet trust you would like reviewed and explained, it is important to disucss this with an experienced estate planning attorney.
Please Call the Office if you would like to discuss further ways you can provide a legacy for your furry friends.