Pets can be a complicated topic when it comes to succession and estate planning. Are they an asset or a liability? Who is prepared to care for the pet should something happen to the owner, and how will they afford the associated expenses? Proper planning can help prevent this from becoming an estate administration nightmare for Ontario owners.
It is advisable for estate planners to include details, such as who will care for a pet, in their will. Special requests for this care, and compensation amounts for taking on the responsibility, should also be listed in a care plan. It is important to communicate with the person or people to whom the animal is being left in order to avoid confusion in the estate administration process.
Care plans will be largely dependant on the animal. For example, birds can live upwards of 80 years, so the commitment of taking that pet in is extensive, although minimal in terms of expense. Dogs may have a shorter lifespan but higher veterinarian bills. Those who do not have a family member or friend who would like to keep the pet upon the owner’s death should also consider local Ontario shelters or rescues.
Leaving no doubt about what intentions exist for a pet is the best situation, but executors do not always have the luxury of a well-defined care plan. In these cases, it is a good idea to discuss the topic with a lawyer who understands estate administration law in Ontario. They can help to clarify which options and precedents exist to manage the transition of the pet into a new home.