Many people have little to no family or they have no family they like. However, many of these people have pets which they wish to ensure are properly cared for after the owner’s death.
So, can someone leave all or a part of their estate to these beloved animals?
Unfortunately, no. I know of no state that will allow someone to leave their money to an animal.
Any attempt to do so will likely cause a judge to rule that the bequest directly to a pet is the same as if that part (or all) of the estate was not left to any one.
However, there is still a way to make sure pets are provided with the care and any necessities of life, for as long a they live.
This is through a legal document known as a trust.
A trust is a legal entity which can be done ahead of time, usually when the pet owner does or updates their will. Trust documents should be drafted by an attorney since leaving all or a portion of the estate to care for a beloved pet can cause a judge to carefully scrutinize the papers
In the trust documents, the lawyer can set out specifics as to what someone wishes for their pets as well as the money to care for them.
Another consideration the lawyer will explain is what to do with any remaining funds after the pet passes away. These “leftovers” (also known as the remainder) can go to a person or a charity, whichever is the preference set forth in the documents.
Of course, these documents may be amended at any time prior to death. For example, if the pet dies, and another animal becomes a companion, the trust documents can be amended to take care of any desired changes.
In conclusion, while a person can’t usually leave the estate to a pet, by using a combination of well drafted documents, the result will still achieve the desired result, providing funds to care for the pet.