Planning For Your Pet? Avoid These Two Mistakes
As Americans, we love our pets. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 60 million people throughout the country own pets. Pet owners are also willing to spend a significant amount of money on their furry and feathered friends. Between the years of 2007 and 2017, people spent $5.8 billion on their pets. They are part of the family and so, it should come as no surprise that many people want to include their pets in their estate plan. There are some challenges associated with doing this and fortunately, ways to overcome them. Below, our St. Petersburg estate planning lawyer explains further.
Not Putting an Agreement in Writing
One of the biggest mistakes people make when planning for their pet is relying on an oral agreement only. For example, you may have a dog. You may ask the breeder of the dog to take care of it in the event that you pass away and they agree. You leave it at that and do not put the agreement in writing.
There are many problems associated with oral contracts and one of the biggest is that they are ambiguous and easily challenged. Using the same example, you may not pass away but you become incapacitated. Even though you may have intended for the agreement to apply in this situation, the dog breeder disagrees and argues that they only agreed to take the animal in the event that you passed away.
Lastly, under the law certain contracts must be in writing and that includes the transfer of property. While you may view your pet as part of the family, the law does not. Under the law, pets are personal property and so, any agreement to transfer ownership must be in writing to be legally binding.
Leaving Behind Money for a Pet in a Will
Again, Americans spend a lot of money on their pets. You may worry that your pet’s needs will not be taken care of if you pass away and so, leave money for them in your will. Due to the fact that pets are considered property under Florida law, providing for your pet in your will usually fails. Regardless of how much you love your pet, you cannot leave property to other property. You may also choose to leave the money with a person who will see to it that the pet is properly cared for. Although the courts sometimes allow this, others have invalidated these provisions in the past.
Our Estate Planning Lawyers in St. Petersburg Can Advise You of Your Options
While it is not always easy to plan for your pet, that does not mean it is not possible. At Legacy Protection Lawyers, LLP, our St. Petersburg estate planning lawyers can outline your legal options, such as creating a trust to provide for your pet. Call us now at 727-471-5868 or contact us online to schedule a consultation so we can review the facts of your case and help you determine which option is right for you.