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Pets and Estate Planning

pets and estate planning | Layman Nichols

pets and estate planning | Layman Nichols

Pets are a very important part of any household, but often an overlooked and misunderstood aspect of estate planning.  Providing the intended after-death care for your pet should be a part of your estate plan and can be achieved by establishing a Trust.  The Trust could be established through your will (Testamentary Trust) or could be set up in a lifetime, revocable Trust (Inter Vivos Trust). State laws can vary, so we recommend asking the help of a qualified professional.

Historically, there have been two different codes that have governed Trusts and arrangements for pets.  The first is the Uniform Probate Code, created in 1990, that allows Trusts for domestic pets that terminate when the pet and their determined offspring die.  The second is the Uniform Trust Code, created in 2000, that allows Trusts for pets and their offspring that were alive during the pet owner’s life.  Both are very similar, but have different requirements and procedures.  Virginia, in particular, falls under the Uniform Trust Code.

In general, the best method for providing after-death care for your pet involves creating either an Inter Vivos or Testamentary Trust with the human beneficiary (pet’s caregiver).  Both have their pros and cons including costs, immediate funding, and ease of administration, but both can adequately create a plan to provide for your pet.  Discuss with your attorney the best option for you and your pet.

Once you have determined the type of Trust to pursue, the following steps are a guideline of how to continue:

  • Select a Trustee and a Caregiver for your pet
  • Determine the size of the Trust based on intended and expected care and desired standard of living
  • Outline distribution and duration of the Trust
  • Include instructions in circumstances when the Trust or your pet outlives the other; i.e. what to do with leftover assets or if the Trust runs out of funds

If you would like more information or help with creating a plan for your pet, please contact us.  At Layman & Nichols, we are here to help with all aspects of your estate planning needs.

1 Comment
  1. Great Article!!!! A must read for any pet owning adults!!

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