When we die, we will leave behind us a lot of things that someone else will have to sort-out. The administration of our deceased estate will include providing for our loved-ones, and dealing with our assets and debts. A carefully drawn Will as part of an integrated estate plan will greatly simplify the process.
Most of us would also want to make some sort of arrangement for the care and accommodation of our family pets. Yet for some reason most people never turn their attention to this issue.
Maybe it’s just too sad to think of parting from our beloved furry companion, or perhaps it’s just too hard to know what to do.
Some people try to do the right thing by their pets, but are ineffective in how they do it. They might make a half-hearted effort to extract promises from family or friends that their animals will be given homes if they die. But those promises are not binding contractual agreements. Circumstances and intentions may change. The cost of properly caring for a pet needs to be taken into account. It is a sad reality that animal shelters are overflowing with discarded pets.
Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as just leaving money in our Wills in our pet’s name, but there are ways to provide financially for our pet’s care. In many jurisdictions around the world, including Australia, pets are not allowed to be named as beneficiaries in Wills in Adelaide because only people and organisations can be named.
However we can leave money for a pet through a trust. We can specify who will look after the pet, who will make the decisions about the pet’s care and how much money is spent on the pet’s maintenance and healthcare.
We should estimate the maximum amount of food, grooming and veterinary care our pet may require per year, then cost that on today’s prices, and multiply that by the animal’s remaining life expectancy. Ideally the custodians of the animal should also be paid for their trouble as well, so they do not resent the animal and are encouraged (and rewarded) to continue to care for it.
It is essential to share our plans in advance with those directly affected, and to appoint more than one (alternate or substitute) custodians. Talk to potential caregivers, and leave enough funds in the Will to help ensure a safe future for them.
When adding a pet to your will, make sure you see a specialist estate planning lawyer for information that will be specific to your situation.
Death & taxes, illness & share-market corrections may be unavoidable … but they don’t have to ruin your family or your business. Make the effort to protect the people you really care about. Call Genders & Partners to create an integrated estate plan and provide for the future of your beloved pets. And do it NOW … before it is too late.
Rod Genders is a senior Australian lawyer specialising in estate planning and accident compensation. His boutique specialist law firm is one of the oldest and most respected in Australia – visit it at www.genders.com.au . Rod is also a prolific author and speaker. Some of his articles on Wills, Probate, Trusts, Estate Planning, Asset Protection and Retirement Planning may be found at www.genders.com.au/adelaide-lawyer-blog/.
SPECIAL REPORT “Pet Trusts”
Who will take care of your pets when you are unable to?
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Valuable insights to prepare for the future and help protect yourself, your family and your assets.