Planning for your petsPets can be as important to us as any family member.  They are there as we celebrate our lives and serve as devoted companions.  For those pet owners who are planning for their estate, there is also the consideration of how their pet will be cared for in the event of their death.  The good news is that Michigan residents who want to ensure their pets are provided for in their estate plan have options.  Here is what you need to know about planning for your pet:

Michigan residents can create something called a “Pet Trust” in order to provide for their beloved pets.  The owner can create two different types of pet trusts:  (1) a trust which will begin if they are incapacitated and; (2) a trust which goes into effect upon the owner’s death.  Both types of trust can be created by an owner.  The person creating a pet trusts can include specific instructions for their pet’s care such as their veterinary services, the types of food they will be fed, and how the trust funds should be should be spent on their pet.

A Michigan pet trust can last for up to 21 years and requires that there are no other beneficiaries that can be identified or are in the owner’s will.  While there is not a cap on the amount which can be placed in this type of trust, if the court thinks the designated amount is too much, it has the discretion of reducing it to an amount it thinks is acceptable.

Someone creating a pet trust needs to be mindful of who will be caring for their pet if they become incapacitated or die.  Ideally, the designated person will be a trusted friend or loved one with whom the pet is familiar and comfortable.  In preparing for the possibility that the preferred caregiver is not able to fulfill their duties, the person may want to include language which directs who may serve as an alternate caregiver or where their pet may be taken if a caregiver cannot be found.

Pet owners also have the option of including provisions for their pet in their will.   These directions may include information as to who will inherit the pet and be responsible for their care and what portion of their estate will be devoted to them.

Including your pet’s care in your estate plan is a loving and important act.  In order to ensure your planning adequately provides for your pet, it is vital that you speak with an experienced attorney.  Our office understands and can advise you on how best to incorporate your pet’s care into your estate plan. Please contact us online or by phone if we may be of assistance.

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