Many people here in Texas consider pets to be like members of their family. These animals bring joy and love to their owners’ lives, and many owners want their faithful companions to be well-cared for, even after the owner has passed on. Despite the sentimental attachment many people feel to their pets, legally the animals are considered property in divorce proceedings. The recent death of fashion mogul Karl Lagerfeld serves as an excellent example of why provisions need to be made for pets in an estate plan.
Pets have often been given to trusted friends or family members upon an owner’s death, as can be specified in a will. However, because many pets these days are so loved by their owners, many people make the choice to have a trust created to care for their pet after their death. It was no secret that Lagerfeld loved his cat, Choupette. Given that he pampered the cat while he was alive, it stands to reason that he may have set up a trust specifically for her. The appointed custodian of the pet can access funds from the trust and use them exclusively to care for the animal.
Since most people aren’t as wealthy as Karl Lagerfeld was, they may not have unlimited funds to ensure that their pets’ needs are met. Owners can consult their veterinarian to determine possible future costs that may be needed to care for the pet over its natural life. The trust can even outline visitation rules for family members or friends that the pet is familiar with and loves. When the pet’s life ends, the caregiver might end up retaining any remaining trust assets if that is what the owner specifies.
Those people here in Texas who have questions about how to ensure their pet is taken care of after they die may wish to consult with an attorney. A legal professional who knows how to manage a comprehensive estate plan can determine exactly how a trust should be developed for the care of a beloved pet. It can offer reassurance to an owner that a furry, feathery or scaly friend will continue to enjoy a good life.