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Why You Need an Estate Plan for Your Pet

Posted by Roman Aminov on July 24, 2019
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Pets in NYC Who Need An Estate PlanAccording to the ASPCA, 1.5 million animals are euthanized in the United States each year.  That’s why it’s so important to have a plan for your pet in the event of your death or disability. With a proper plan, your pets will be cared for by the person you chose who can be provided with instructions and resources for their care.  There are several ways to do this, so the first step is to consult with an experienced New York estate planning for pets lawyer to discuss what would work best for your pets.

Wills Are Not the Most Effective Way to Plan for Pets

Wills are simpler to create than trusts, but are limited in the protection they can provide for your pet.  Wills cannot fully protect pets for the following reasons:

  • Wills are intended to dispose of property, not to maintain it.
  • They are also subject to review by a court, and can be invalidated.
  • Wills can only provide a lump sum payment for the care of an animal, not ongoing payments for care.
  • There is a gap between the death of a testator and probate, where there is no provision for the care of the pet.
  • Wills do not come into play unless a person dies, so they cannot provide for care of the pet due to the owner’s incapacity or serious illness.

Pet Trusts Are The Best Estate Planning Method for Pets

NY EPTL §  7-8.1 was enacted by the New York State legislature under pressure to provide more protection for New Yorkers’ pets after their death.  Creating trusts for the benefit of animals has become so popular that all 50 States have now enacted legislation for Pet Trusts. Trusts for pets now allow for the care of an animal through a trustee for an animal beneficiary.  That means that funds from the estate be earmarked for food, veterinary care and other needs of the pet, terminating upon the death of the beneficiary animal. If you would like to create a trust for your pet, consulting with an experienced New York estate planning for pets lawyer is the first step.

How Does a Pet Trust Operate?

To start, you must select a caretaker and a trustee.  You can select the same person for these two roles, but you do not have to.  Having two different persons can create a useful “check and balance,” which can provide additional protection for your pet.  The caretaker will be the legal owner of your pet, who is charged with carrying out your instructions for the pet’s maintenance and care.  The trustee will distribute funds from the trust to be used for food, veterinary care and other costs that you specify in the trust.

How Much Funding Do You Need for a Pet Trust?

When determining the amount of funding, it is a good idea to look carefully at the likely future expenses based on the following:

  • Veterinary Care and any special needs your pet has
  • Your pet’s life expectancy
  • The cost of grooming
  • Housing (more applicable for animals such as horses)
  • Transportation (more applicable for show animals)
  • Compensation for the caretaker, if you wish to do so

How Do I Set Up An Estate Plan for My Pet?

Pets trusts offer the greatest protection for your pet, but are difficult to set up.  Consulting with an experienced estate planning attorney is the best way to get started.


Law Offices Of Roman Aminov 147-17 Union Turnpike, Flushing, NY 11367 (347) 766-2685

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