For many of pet-lovers, making sure our animals are cared for after we’re gone is extremely important. We want to know that they’ll be in good hands in a good home with lots of love and attention. The best way to ensure this happens is by including directives for care in your estate plan.

Keep reading to learn about how an experienced Michigan estate planning lawyer can help make sure your pets are cared for if you pass away.

Planning for Your Pet’s Future in Michigan

Pets are considered “tangible property,” so while you might want to leave money or other resources to your favorite animal, it’s not possible according to Michigan law. Fortunately, you can either write specific directives about your pets’ care into your will or even create a pet trust. Without these special legal documents, your animals will be transferred to a living spouse or named beneficiaries like other pieces of property.

How to Write Your Pet into Your Will

The most straightforward way to make sure your pet is cared for is to write directives into your will naming a new caregiver, at least one potential backup, and any other special instructions you want followed in the event of your death.

Writing instructions for the care of your pet into your will does not provide resources for their care, which could be challenging for the individuals you appoint. They do, however, create legal guidelines for how your pet should be cared for, which is especially important if your animal requires special or specific care.

How to Create a Michigan Pet Trust

Creating a pet trust is a great way to make sure your pet’s new caretaker has the necessary resources and proper instructions to provide the level of care your pet has come to expect and need. It’s also the only legal way to earmark funds specifically for the care of your pet and include instructions for their life and health. Additionally, creating a pet trust creates built-in accountability measures for the health and well-being of your beloved pet.

Specific instructions often outlined in a pet trust include:

  • Designating a trustee to make sure your wishes are carried out
  • A caregiver and backup caregiver
  • Designating funds specifically to cover the care of your pet and any stipends for the caretaker
  • How expenses should be used to provide care for your pet
  • Mandated check-ins with the trustee and caretaker to ensure your wishes are being carried out
  • Instructions for daily care and standard of living — including specific food, exercise, and grooming
  • Healthcare directives — including veterinary care, breeding, spaying or neutering, and vaccinations
  • How remains should be handled after the pet passes away

In Michigan, pet trusts automatically lapse after 21 years. If you have a pet with a longer lifespan, speak with an estate lawyer to make sure your pets have the best care possible.

The Law Offices of Kari Santana Are Here to Help

At the Law Offices of Kari Santana, we know how much pets mean to you and your family. Thinking about end-of-life plans can be challenging, especially when you’re uncertain about pet’s future. We work hard to provide compassionate services that meet your family (and your pets’) unique needs.

If you’re looking for practical and cost-effective estate planning solutions for your family and animals, please complete this brief form or call us at 616-717-5759.

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.