Pets are often considered family members. But what does the law say when furry friends are left behind in an estate?
Ontario families may be left in a bind when it comes to dealing with their pets in estate administration. Things can get even more difficult if there is not a clear person available to take in the pet, or no funds are left behind to care for a high-maintenance animal.
For this reason, experts recommend taking some time to plan for the fate of pets when developing estate plans. This should include clear instructions for the care of the pet, ideally stretching for the duration of the pet’s life and considering any possible health issues they might have along the way. Contingency plans should also be in place in case the person originally named to care for a pet is unable to do so.
Pets can be expensive, so pet owners should plan for costs associated with pet care when naming someone to take on this responsibility. One way to do this is by setting up funds for pet care through a trust. A trust can be especially useful if you want to ensure how the money you leave behind will be spent. However, it is also common to simply leave an appropriate amount of money to the caretaker, with instructions that it is to go toward expenses.
There are many considerations that go into including your pet in your estate plan. Pet care plans can vary greatly depending on the type of animal, the level of care it requires and any existing health conditions. Consulting with an estate attorney about your pet’s unique needs is an important first step in planning for their future.