Care For Your Pets Through Estate Planning

Owning a horse is a significant undertaking in terms of both time and money. When you accept this responsibility, the onus for feeding, grooming, and exercising them falls on you. Regardless of what the weather and your calendar look like, you still have to muck the stalls, exercise the horse, or turn them out in a paddock daily. Horse owners are selfless people who devote themselves to protecting, raising, and loving these animals. 

The costs associated with doing so are considerable. Even if you own a single horse, you must factor in the following:

  • Food 
  • Veterinary Care 
  • Bedding
  • Building Maintenance & Upkeep
  • Training

Owners can pay, on average, around $4000 per horse, and a horse’s life expectancy is 25-30 years. Given these statistics, what happens to your horses when you pass away? How will they be supported financially? 

Living Without An Estate Plan 

Not only are horse owners selfless, but so are the dedicated people who run equine rescue centers in Virginia. When a horse owner passes away without providing a plan (i.e., an estate plan) for how the horse will be cared for, the horse will be viewed as property. Sadly, they will be treated like any other asset that belonged to the deceased. 

Without a proper estate plan, the deceased’s assets get distributed according to intestate laws. The person who inherits the horse may not have the time, money, or knowledge to take care of it. Ultimately, these same people may turn to equine rescue centers to take the horse in. Although they don’t have the heart to say no, they don’t have the necessary funding and resources to keep saying yes. 

Continue To Be Selfless

In Virginia, you can create a pet trust. Any pet owner can meet with an attorney to draft a legal document outlining what happens to their animal if they pass away or are incapacitated. Think about who you want to select as the trustee and caretaker. These people will manage the trust and care for the pet named in the trust. You can appoint either one or two people to fulfill these roles. You should speak to them to confirm their willingness to take on these tremendous responsibilities. Trustees and caretakers will be entitled to compensation as well. 

Though your estate planning attorney will assist you, you can use your assets to fund the trust. This provides the trustee with the resources required to care for the pet. If this money is not used, it simply goes back into your estate. 

One of the most outstanding elements of a pet trust is that you can state how your pet will be cared for. No one knows your pet better than you, and you can pass this information on for their benefit. Though you will not be there, you have the peace of mind of knowing that your pet will be treated in a way that you know they would want. 

Build a Trust for Your Pet 
The skilled attorneys at Norton Pelt have extensive experience helping clients build an estate plan. We can assist you with creating wills, trusts (including pet trusts), powers of attorney, and advanced medical directives. To learn more about how we can help you, contact Norton Pelt to schedule your consultation.

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