Estate Planning for Pets in the DC Area

Legal Article

Estate Planning for Pets in the DC Area

What You Need To Know:

  • You cannot name your pet as a direct beneficiary of your estate
  • You can set up a trust for your pets that can pay for medical, food and other expenses
  • If you have minor children, speak to your guardians about the pets joining the kids in the event that your guardian has custody of your children.
  • Make sure your pets will get along with any potential caretaker’s pets
  • Make sure that your potential caretaker’s lifestyle matches your pets’ needs
  • Plan in advance for what happens once your last pet passes and have any leftover proceeds got to charity.

Estate Planning For Pets

Your pets are a beloved part of your family. Unfortunately, pets are overlooked in proper estate planning. To ensure that the four-legged members of your family properly care for considering adding your pets to your comprehensive estate plan.

When plan your estate to provide for your pets there are a few considerations that you should keep in mind.

First, pets cannot be named beneficiaries of money or property from your estate. In the eyes of the law, pets are no different from other property. While we may love and care for them, pets can not legally be the direct beneficiaries of your estate. So, what are your options?

Pets TrustsA: Despite the fact that the last will and testament do not have the mechanism to properly care for your pets, a properly written pet trust is an ideal planning tool to make sure your dog or cat is provided for. Customarily your pet trust will appoint someone as your pet caretaker and provide monies to care for your pet. Typically, the trustee. when the last of your pet is no longer living, the balance of whatever monies have been set aside for you pets care can either revert back to the residue of the trust for distribution to beneficiaries or be given to a charity, such as an animal shelter or other organization that you would like to benefit.

Selecting a Pet Caretaker

Selecting a pet caretaker can often be a difficult task. However, a few simple considerations can avoid unnecessary grief for your family and pets. First, speak to family and friends to determine who would enjoy caring for your pets in the event that you pass. If you have minor children, inquire with the individual that you have nominated a guarding for your minor children if they would also take your pets to ease the transition for the children. Third, Confirm that your pets are healthy and identify any special consideration your pet caretaker may have to address as a custodian for your pet.

How Much Should I Set Aside For My Pet

The answer depends on various factors:

  • The type of animals (horses are more expensive than dogs and cats)
  • Smaller animals eat less food than large animals
  • Some breeds are predisposed to have certain costly medical ailments
  • Grooming requirements
  • How much longer you expect your pets to live
  • New pets in the future
  • Inflation (wills and trust can always be amended)

For more information on estate planning for pets contact Antonoplos & Associates at 202-803-5676 or on the web at