Pets are unquestionably family members who contribute to the overall character and well-being of a family unit. Despite the love and companionship that pets contribute, Ohio law recognizes pets as the personal property of their owners. This means, without proper planning, the fate and well-being of a pet may be left to the discretion of an estate administrator upon its owner’s death. Luckily, Ohio offers two options for pet owners to ensure their final wishes are followed regarding the care and well-being of their four-legged companions.
The first option is to provide for pets in a properly drafted last will and testament. The will allows pet owners to specifically name a trusted person who will take possession of pets upon the owner’s death. It also allows pet owners to leave financial assets to the new caretaker in order to cover the cost of care and comfort for the pet. While a will offers the opportunity to name a new owner of pets, it faces two limitations. First, a will does not necessarily allow for specific instructions regarding the quality of care or comfort a pet should receive in the long-term. Second, a will does not provide for long-term instructions on how the financial assets a pet owner leaves to a caretaker may be utilized.
Another option is to take advantage of an Ohio law that allows for the creation of trusts that provide for the care of animals. Like a will, a trust allows a pet owner to name a new caretaker for pets. A trust also allows an owner to set aside financial assets or property that may only be used for the well-being of a pet. The trust can also specify how and when those financial assets may be used in relation to the comfort and care of a beloved pet. Any financial assets that remain in the trust after the pet has passed away will then be distributed to a person specified in the trust. The trust offers pet owners more long-term control regarding how a pet should be cared for and how any financial assets may be spent.
Transferring property through wills and trusts requires compliance with specific legal provisions. An attorney can ensure your wishes will be met by properly drafting legal documents and legally transferring title to property. Click here to make an appointment with Jim Gilbride to create an estate plan that meets your individual needs including your wishes regarding the future care of your faithful pets.