Wills and Pets: Who Gets The Dog?

It’s important to plan for the future, which also means planning for the future when you are no longer in this world. Having a will that states your desires once you are gone is prudent to help avoid conflicts amongst family members and excessive taxation. One issue that can be forgotten in wills is the pets. What happens to your dog or cat when you die? Who will take care of them?

Tate Bywater is a top law firm in Prince William County that offers estate planning services, including help with your will or trust. Our top real estate attorneys can help you with all aspects of estate planning, from designation of beneficiaries to making provisions for your pets after you pass. In this blog post, we’ll explain the process of providing for your pet in your will in Virginia. Contact our estate lawyers today!

How to plan for the care of your pet after your death

Many of us love our pets, and we need to ensure they are taken care of after our death. In the state of Virginia, you can have a Virginia pet trust that will designate who will care for your pet. If you don’t have a will or trust with specific instructions on what will happen to Fido or Kitty when you die, your pet is treated just like any other piece of your property and will pass to beneficiaries when you pass. Depending on the situation of your beneficiary, he or she may not be able to care for your beloved pet.

A Virginia pet trust will help you designate who will care for your pet both when you die and if you become incapacitated. However, your pet must be named in the trust, meaning if you get future pets, you must update your trust, which is an easy process to do, but is, again, often forgotten.

In your pet trust or will, you can designate:

  • Who will care for your pets
  • Who will be the trustee of your trust or will to oversee that your pet is cared for
  • Expenses for your pet’s care
  • Standards for your pet’s care

The trustee will ensure your wishes are carried out with regard to your pet. Your trust can be funded in multiple ways to ensure your pet’s care, such as using stocks, bonds, or cash from your estate. The rest of your possessions will fall under the provisions of your estate. You’ll want to take into consideration how much you spend annually on your pet and how old your pet is when you designate the funds for your pet.

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Tate Bywater notes that one of the most important aspects of a pet trust in the state of Virginia is your ability to designate care instructions. Almost anything goes with this regard. You can designate grooming, housing, feeding, vet services, exercise, and socialization. You can also set forth provisions for pet euthanasia and even say where you want your pet’s remains to be buried.

Another great thing about pet trusts is that you can compensate the caretaker of your pet as well, in addition to paying for the pet’s expenses. This is incentive for the caretaker to perform you wishes.

Tate Bywater recommends that you do ask the person whom you want to be your pet’s caretaker to do so ahead of time so they are not surprised by a new family member when you die. This is your chance to see if they are willing and to explain care instructions. It’s also your chance to thank them for taking care of one of your most precious possessions for you if you die.

How Tate Bywater can help with estate planning

It is estimated that only nine percent of wills have provisions for their pets in them. The unfortunate consequences of this is that many pets end up in shelters after the passing of their owner, and the care they receive will be up in the air.

When you partner with Tate Bywater for estate planning services, you can have peace of mind that your beloved dog or cat is cared for if something should happen to you. There is probably no greater gift you can give your dog or cat who will probably be grieving your loss in their own way. Contact out top estate planning lawyers today for a free consultation!