As estate planning attorneys, we focus on helping people make sure they have a plan in place in the event they get sick and for when they die. This is a natural stage that everyone will experience, but it is not necessarily easy.
When you are passing through your golden years, you may lose your spouse and other people that were close to you. Depending on your family dynamic, you may not have regular interactions with loved ones, and retired people no longer have day-to-day workplace relationships.
Loneliness can definitely be an issue, and for some people, it can lead to depression. Fortunately, there is a partial solution, and we will look at it in this post.
Nothing can replace human relationships that have developed over years, but pet ownership may help to fill the void. In addition to the companionship, you feel a sense of purpose once again, because there is a four-legged dependent in your life that relies on you for everything.
If the pet is a dog, you have a reason to go outside and take walks. This is good for your physical and mental health, and when you are at the park or the dog park, you will invariably interact with other pet owners and animal lovers. This can lead to the development of friendships.
Experts highly recommend pet ownership for seniors who are capable of providing the necessary care. It is personally uplifting on numerous different levels, and you are giving an animal a home.
All of the above may sound very appealing, but if you are a senior citizen, longevity can be a source of concern depending on the age of the pet. Of course, pets cannot own property, so you can’t leave money to an animal in a simple will. However, there are other solutions.
At one time, pet trusts were not legal. You could make an agreement with someone to provide a home for the pet after your passing and leave that person an inheritance that would be earmarked for the pet’s care. This is still possible, but the individual who inherits the money would not be legally compelled to use it to care for the pet. Plus, you may not know anyone that is willing to assume the responsibility.
At this point, pet trusts are in fact legal in every state in the union, so this is an available option. If you establish a trust for the benefit of your pet, you would name a trustee to act as the administrator after your passing. This can be someone that you know personally, or you can name a professional trustee, like a trust company. The trustee does not necessarily have to be the individual who will provide hands-on care for the pet. The trustee’s job is to make sure the funds in the pet trust are properly invested and preserved for the care of your pet.
If a trustee agrees to assume this responsibility, they would have a fiduciary duty in a legal sense. They would be required to follow your instructions to the letter with regard to the way you want the pet to be cared for after you are gone.
You do not have to be concerned about assets that may be left in the trust after the death of your fine furry friend. When you are drawing up the trust declaration, you can name a successor beneficiary that will inherit the remainder when the time comes.
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If you already know that it is time to work with a Naperville and North Aurora, Illinois estate planning attorney to put a plan in place, we are here to help. You can send us a message to request a consultation appointment, and we can be reached by phone at 630-568-8611.