Providing For Animals In Your Estate Plan
Disinheriting the people in your life is exhilarating. Once you realize that you have a legal right to write your children out of your will, you can take delight in how much money will be left for someone more deserving. But who? You and your siblings have never seen eye to eye, and your nieces and nephews treat you with as much ingratitude as your lineal descendants do. You can leave your estate to one or more of your closest friends, but which ones? Is there anyone in this world who has been enough of a friend to you to warrant inheriting your estate? Before you know it, you are disinheriting the entire human race, which you have the right to do. If you are unmarried, you can disinherit your entire family, and no one can override your decision. If you are married, your spouse can claim an elective share of your estate during probate, but he or she cannot collect more than half of your estate. It’s your life, and if you decide that, when it is over, animals are more deserving of your generosity than humans, the probate court will implement your decision. A Tampa estate planning lawyer can help you provide for your animal friends in your estate plan.
Don’t Make Non-Humans Beneficiaries of Your Will
Some animals are very intelligent, but only humans have a legal right to make financial decisions. You cannot make your pets the beneficiaries of your will. The designated heirs of your will must be humans, just as the personal representative of your estate must be a human.
You can, however, indicate that a certain person will inherit a pet. In the case of animals whose care is inexpensive, all you need is a clause in your will that says, “My sister Linda Bloggins will inherit my cat Mittens.” Presumably, this will not be a surprise to Linda, and she will be prepared for Mittens to move in with her.
Do Set Up a Trust for the Care of Your Animals
The best way to provide for the care of your pets is to set up a trust. The trustee must follow your instructions regarding the animals’ care. This may require the trustee to continue paying utilities at your house so your pets can continue living there. If the trustee, or someone else, is responsible for the animals’ care, such as feeding them and taking them to vet appointments, your trust should account for a salary for the caregivers.
Do Think Beyond Your Immediate Circle of Furry Friends
You also have the right to use your estate to help animals that you never got the chance to pet, or that do not wish for anyone to pet them. You can also leave money in your will to an animal sanctuary or a wildlife conservation charity.
Contact David Toback With Questions About Estate Planning for Well-Intentioned Misanthropes
A Central Florida estate planning lawyer can help you build an estate plan based on your belief that animals are more deserving beneficiaries of your estate than people are. Contact David Toback in Tampa, Florida to set up a consultation.