Pets and Wills

Cool DogWriting a will is an important and necessary action to take if you wish to pass along your life savings and other accumulated assets to loved ones. When you think about eligible recipients, you probably imagine children, spouses, siblings and grandchildren. After all, these are the most common heirs to the throne, right? Well, for the most part.

Another set of beneficiaries is becoming more common. Many people across the nation are making provisions for their pet companions in their wills.

Recently, the American Pet Products Association found that 9% of Americans are planning ahead for their pets’ livelihood. This isn’t a static number, but rather a rising trend among pet owners.

An attorney and estate planning specialist in Clinton Township, Mich., Terry Giampetroni, said the findings didn’t surprise her. In an interview with Detroit’s WWJ’s Marie Osborne, Giampetroni said, “One of the questions we ask on our questionnaire that we send in advance: Is there a pet that you want to make a provision for?”

Giampetroni went on to explain that most people who include animals in their wills are those who don’t have children or other close relatives to take on ownership responsibilities for the pet.

For some, including a pet in a will seems like a strange thing to do, but to others it’s a smart move. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA®), approximately 5 million to 7 million companion animals enter animal shelters nationwide every year, and approximately 3 million to 4 million are euthanized.

One option that may work for you: Invest in a pet trust.

Currently there are 45 states with pet trust regulations. Pet trusts allow owners to leave money behind for the care of one or more animals. The owner must choose someone to take care of the animal, leaving the person with a set of instructions on how to spend the money. Owners should properly evaluate the amount of money to leave behind and be aware that, although pet trusts can cover multiple pets, they do not cover the offspring of those pets. Consulting a veterinarian or other pet care specialist can help you determine a reasonable investment.

Bear in mind, leaving too much behind can be a bad thing. Leona Helmsley, a famous hotelier, left behind a $12 million trust fund for her pooch, but a judge deemed it as unnecessary and reduced it to $2 million. The judge then sent the rest to Helmsley’s charitable foundation. If this is a concern, owners can always decide ahead how to allocate additional funds.

This post was written by Jeff Kurtz, who writes about pet-related topics, including general information about affordable dog insurance options and other news about ASPCA Pet Insurance. He also enjoys learning about trending pet-related news across the web.

Image credit: Flickr skylcaptaintwo

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