The media often report stories about celebrities who leave vast amounts of money for their pets. Recent examples include clothing designer Karl Lagerfeld, who died earlier this year. His estate plan ensures that Choupette, his cat, continues to live the pamper lifestyle afforded to her as Lagerfeld’s favorite companion. The seven-year-old Burmese now stands to inherit a sizable part of her human’s $300 million estate.
Making arrangements for a pet or animal
Lagerfeld’s cat is the exception, but there are plenty of animal lovers who wish to ensure the care of their cats, dogs, horses, or animals long after an owner’s passing. Even those of more modest means can draft specific provisions (Florida now allows pet trusts) to prevent the animal from being improperly cared for, given away or even euthanized.
The details of the arrangement are based on the needs of the animal and the size of the bequest. Providing animal lovers with peace of mind, it is not unusual for there to be specific instructions for the care, feeding, exercise, and even burial arrangements of the pet.
To ensure that the deceased’s wishes are carried out, some precautions and safeguards should be added to the arrangement:
- Stipulate that a trustee make regular visits to ensure the wellbeing of the pet or animals
- Avoid fraud by identifying the pet or animals using DNA, microchips and photos
- Look at the arrangement and then determine a reasonable amount to pay for the costs
- Designate a remainder beneficiary so unused funds can be dispersed once the pet or animals die
Effective planning and support for clients
An experienced estate law attorney can draft nearly anything into an estate plan as long it fits into the confines of Florida law. They can also provide services to human and animal beneficiaries, whether it involves administering a pet trust or other estate law matters.