Putting your pet in your will

Pets in Will

Providing for a little kitty to go with your pet can help ensure your wishes are met when it comes to their care after your passing.

Many families regard their pets as full members, and a growing number of wills reflect that fact.

A report by the Globe and Mail features a Vancouver couple in their 30s who added a section of their will to deal with the future care of their two young children…and their dog.

“Similar to how we would leave money for them to take care of the kids, we are leaving money for the dog. He’s family,” the mother told the newspaper, explaining that the will provides for $10,000 to go with the dog to her parents – the pet’s designated future caregivers – should the worst happen to her and her husband.

If you’re thinking of putting something similar in your own will, I would recommend that you speak not only to the planned caregiver, but also to whoever will be administering the estate, to make sure they’re on board.

Technically speaking, instructions for the care of pets are typically “precatory,” which means they express a testator’s wishes and crucially, are not binding on the estate’s executors or trustees.

And if the deceased’s wishes can’t be met, then the executor themselves may need to take over responsibility or possibly have the animal euthanized if nobody can be found to care for it.

It’s also a good idea to follow the example of the couple in the Globe, by allocating some money for the pet’s future living and medical expenses.

Cash may also need to be set aside for the interim stage between the testator’s passing and the executor’s appointment as trustee – a period that can last for months if probate is required, and during which the executor will have no way to access funds from the estate.

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