Statistics show that more and more Americans are naming their pets on their wills, making sure that their animal friends are well-provided for even if they're gone.
According to American Pet Products Association (APPA), an organization which stands for pet food and products manufacturers, the number of American pet owners who named their pets on their wills has increased over the years. As of 2012, 68 percent of American households have pets, up by six percent from 2010. Nine percent of cat owners have named their cats on their will, up by three percent from 2010. For 2010 to 2012, dog owners who made such provisions increased to 9 percent from 5 percent.
"Many people think of their pets as family members and want to make sure they are well provided for," APPA president Bob Vetere told the Wall Street Journal.
The state laws prohibit pet owners on giving money directly to their pets. Pets are considered as property and they cannot be bequeathed with property themselves. Those who want to make sure that their pet is taken care of they die can leave the money to a designated caretaker, but the caretaker has no legal obligation to perform the duties of taking care of the pet.
According to trust and estates attorney in New York, Frances Carlisle, a better way of taking care of your pet after you die is to set up a pet trust. A pet trust allows the pet owner to appoint a trustee, who will be legally obligated to take care of the animal. The trustee will also be required to pay the bills for the pet such as veterinary care and supervise the animal's caretaker. Trustees may also double as the pet's caretaker.
"Pet trusts aren't just for the wealthy," Carlisle told WSJ. She added that most pet owners' goal "is to make sure a plan exists for the care of the animal."
Pet trusts can take effect when you die or even when you're still alive. The latter option allows you to make sure that your pet is taken care of in the event of an accident or disease which may leave you unable to take care of your pet yourself. Make sure that you give everyone involved a copy of the trust document so they will know the provisions of the trust and what is expected of them.