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The Heritage Law Center, LLC Blog

Estate Planning for Your Pets

POSTED ON: January 10, 2022

cat and dog

Pets are often an integral part of our families. A recent article in Fifty Plus Advocate “Estate planning for pets ensures your wishes are honored talks about the ways you can include your pet in your estate planning to ensure they are taken care of after you’re gone.

Ways to include your pet:

A will. In Massachusetts, pets are considered property. Of course, anyone who owns a pet doesn’t see it that way, but that’s the way the law views it. You can leave property to a particular person in your will. So, you can leave your pet to a person who you know will love and take care of your pet. You can also bequeath money to that person for the purpose of caring for your pet, however, legally that person can spend the money in any way they want.

A pet trust. Recently, Massachusetts passed a trust reform law that changed Massachusetts pet trusts. The law states that in that pet trust, the pet is the beneficiary. A trustee is named who will take care of the pet and manage the money in the trust. The trustee must comply with the instructions in the trust. The pet owner can even appoint other people to monitor the trustee’s activities and enforce the terms of the trust. This trust is meant to last throughout the animal’s lifetime.

A Massachusetts pet trust is especially helpful for animals who require a lot of money to maintain their lives like an older dog who needs certain medications or larger animals like horses who require more money to house and feed. After the pet’s death, any remaining funds would go to a named beneficiary in the trust.

A power of attorney. In the case of a pet, a power of attorney names someone to take care of your pet if you’re unable to do so. Examples of situations when this could be helpful: you have severe health problems and you’re in the hospital or simply can’t physically care for your animal, you’re involved in some kind of accident, or you get stuck in another country while on vacation and can’t travel home due to a pandemic.

The agent can take care of your pet by bringing them to the veterinarian, providing medications, training, feeding, and giving them the love and attention they need.

If you have a beloved pet and you’re thinking about a Massachusetts pet trust or some other way of including them in your estate plan, we can help you make sure that your pet is taken care of even when you’re not able to do so. Contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.