Can You Include Your Dog in Your Estate Plan?

pet trust

We help people address the challenges that they may face when they become senior citizens, and loneliness is one of them. Individuals who have been retired for years do not have regular interactions with coworkers.  As a result, those daily connections are no longer part of your life.

The loss of your spouse is the deepest cut of all. Many seniors lose extended family members and longtime friends as well. This is hard to swallow emotionally, but that is not the only concern.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), social isolation increases the likelihood of premature death from all causes.

Isolated elders are 50 percent more likely to contract Alzheimer’s disease. They are also at a higher risk of depression and anxiety. People in this position run a high risk of heart disease and stroke. As you can see, there are very real health challenges associated with loneliness.

Dog Ownership

There is no way you can replace people you have lost along the way. A dog, however, can definitely make a big difference in your life. The companionship is priceless. There are other benefits that go along with dog ownership.

When you have a dog, you have a reason to go outside and take your pet for walks. Cardiovascular exercise is good for your heart, and the fresh air, sunshine, and the outdoor environment can uplift your mood.

If you do not work and you have no dependents, you can lose a much-needed sense of purpose. This void will vanish when you have a canine companion that needs you in every way.

There is also the protection factor. Even small dogs have great hearing capabilities. They can let you know if there are unusual sounds outside the door.

Pet Planning

Dog ownership can make a very positive difference in the life of a senior.  On the other side of the equation, you are giving a lonely animal a home. Of course, if you are a responsible senior citizen, you may have concerns about the pet outliving you.

Fortunately, there is an ideal solution in the form of a pet trust. Pet trusts are recognized in every state in the union, so they are legal here in Oklahoma.

If you establish a pet trust, you have to identify someone that is willing to take care of the pet if you die first. You need to make sure the person you want to name as the caretaker is willing to assume the role.

The administrator of the trust is the trustee, and ideally, the trustee should not be the same person that is going to act as the caretaker. When you designate a separate trustee and caretaker, there will be no conflicts of interest, and there will be a system of checks and balances.

To account for assets that may remain in the trust after the death of the pet, you name a successor beneficiary when you draw up the trust. The successor will inherit the assets that are left in the trust after the pet passes.

Access Our Estate Planning Worksheet!

Since you are here, you must have questions about the estate planning process. We provide many answers on this site. Our blog is updated on an ongoing basis. We also have other resources, including our carefully prepared worksheet.

If you take the time to complete it, you will come away with a more thorough understanding of this essential process. This is a free resource. Just visit our worksheet access page to get your copy.

Need Help Now?

Our doors are open if you are ready to work with an Oklahoma City estate planning lawyer to put a plan in place. You can send us a message to request a consultation appointment, and we can be reached by phone at 405-843-6100.



Larry Parman, Attorney at Law
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