What Should I Be Aware Of When Inheriting A Pet?

Estate Planning Lawyer

Pets are often treated as treasured members of the family. It is for this reason that discussing the matter of inheriting a pet can prove to be such a sensitive subject. Much like discussing the guardianship arrangements for minor children in the event that their parents pass away prematurely, discussing the inheritance of treasured pets can be uniquely challenging.

Thankfully, both pet owners and potential beneficiaries do not have to navigate pet inheritance matters alone. Experienced estate planning attorneys are able to guide individuals through the process of preparing to gift pet ownership to a loved one in the event of the owner’s death and the process of assuming pet ownership in the event that a loved one passes away and leaves a pet in that individual’s care.

Pet Inheritance for Current Pet Owners

It is important to speak to your estate planning attorney about the best way to make plans for your pet in the event of your passing. You may wish to set up a modest trust in order to help defray financial costs associated with your pet’s care, including food, boarding and medical expenses. You may also wish to designate a guardian for your pet and an alternative guardian in case your “first choice” is unable or unwilling to assume the responsibility of caring for your animal. If you want your pet to serve as a beneficiary in regards to any portion of your estate, your attorney will also be able to explain how you may go about making this kind of legal designation. Finally, if you want to express any desires related to your pet’s care, your attorney will be able to explain how your wishes may be legally articulated in ways that are likely to remain legally enforceable after you have passed away.

Receiving a Pet from a Loved One

If you have inherited a pet from a loved one, you may have concerns about keeping that pet, providing for it and/or paying for its care. An attorney may be able to tell you whether any portion of your loved one’s estate has been set aside in order to provide for the animal. If you have reservations about keeping the animal, it may benefit both you and your loved one’s pet to speak with an attorney about whether alternative arrangements may be made. Certainly, you want the animal to be well cared for. If you are at all concerned that you cannot provide that care, you may be able to work with your loved one’s extended friends and family in order to find a more appropriate home.

Estate Planning and Inheritance Guidance Is Available

If you have questions about inheriting a pet, please consider reaching out to an experienced estate planning lawyer. Whether you have questions about transferring your pet’s ownership in the event of your death or questions about inheriting a pet that recently belonged to a loved one, an attorney will be able to advise you of your legal options, rights and responsibilities. Inheriting a pet is a sensitive, serious subject. Please consider seeking legal guidance if you might benefit from it now or in the future.