Texas Estate Planning for Families with Pets

People love their pets. And in many households, pets are a beloved part of the family. Because of this—and since pets cannot take care of themselves—many Texans worry about who will care for their pets when they pass away. So while they may not be the first thought when putting together an estate plan, incorporating pets into the process is extremely important. Below are various questions that pet owners have about including their pets in their estate plan along with solutions to these problems.

Who Will Care for My Pet?

The first step in including a pet in their estate plan is to list in their will who would have physical custody of the pets. Sometimes, it may be a simple answer to who would take care of a pet if its owner passes away. However, this is not always the case. Even if the answer seems apparent, it is important to include this in an estate plan.

There are many things to consider when deciding who will take care of pets. First, is the individual willing to provide lifetime care to the pet? This often can be a major commitment, and it is essential to discuss this with the person before naming them as the pet’s caretaker in the will. Secondly, are the pets comfortable around the individual? Considering that a change in owners can be emotionally challenging for the pets, it is important to choose an individual the animals enjoy being around.

How Much Money Should I Leave for My Pet’s Care?

Besides deciding who will physically care for the pets, individuals should set money aside in their estate plan to provide for the care costs of the animals. While it can be difficult to decide how much money to leave for the pet’s care, estate planning attorneys can help individuals to develop a more concrete number. For one, they will ask how much money the person currently spends on their pets per year. Then, this amount should be multiplied as if the pet were to live an extraordinarily long life. Additionally, they will also suggest adding some extra money to the amount in case of an emergency or if the animal has a long-term illness.

While most people will leave this amount in a lump sum for the named caretaker, other people will choose to create a Pet Trust. A Pet Trust will disburse the money to the caretaker over a period of time and ensure the funds provided are actually being used to take care of the animals.

Including pets in an estate plan is not always common knowledge for many Texans; because of this, individuals who would like to include information about their pets in their estate plan should contact a knowledgeable attorney.

Contact a Houston Estate Planning Attorney

If you or a loved one wants to include pets in their final plans, contact the experienced Houston estate planning attorneys at McCulloch & Miller, PLLC. We have experience drafting wills, power of attorney documents, and a wide variety of other estate planning matters—including documents that incorporate pets into the estate planning process. Call 713-333-8900 to schedule a no strings attached consultation with one of our attorneys today.


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