Many people are familiar with leaving assets to children in a will, but what about pets? Interestingly, passing “inheritances” onto furry friends is not as unusual in wills as some might think. Considerations for Alberta estates involving pets may include naming a guardian for their animals, as well as leaving some funds to cover living expenses while they are with the new owner.
Those who can afford to do so should consider the cost of food, vet bills and other expenses for the pet should they pass away first. In some cases, they may also want to compensate the friend or family member who will adopt the pet after they pass away with a daily amount or lump sum for their efforts. Often those who have a higher net worth will leave even more to pets. As an extreme example, the five dogs owned by Oprah Winfrey have a $30-million trust fund.
Considering pets in estate planning is somewhat of a trend, with an increased number of people wanting to discuss these issues when drafting their wills. Lawyers can support people in planning for the future of their pets by including a custody provision. This is the same legal process used to declare a guardian for minor children.
The amount an animal’s caretaker might need depends a great deal on the age and type of the pet. For example, a young horse would consume more resources than a young cat. Animals cannot be named as a beneficiaries in wills as they are considered property, but they can certainly benefit from some provisions. This issue is best dealt with by discussing the specifics with an Alberta lawyer.