Talking about death is typically uncomfortable, which may be why putting together an estate plan is often avoided in Texas and elsewhere. However, because death cannot be avoided, estate planning is an essential to-do-list item. When creating an estate plan, it is important not only to include family members such as children as beneficiaries but also to explain what should happen to a favorite pet in the event of one's passing away.
A pet owner can easily add language in an estate plan to arrange ongoing care after the owner dies. If this language does not exist, the court will simply view the pet as personal property. Therefore, it may end up going to unintended family members in the same way that other personal possessions, such as automobiles, would go to them.
In some cases, it may be beneficial to set up a pet trust, which provides for a pet's ongoing care and custodial costs. Along with such a trust, it may be helpful to put together what is called a letter of final wishes. This letter can pinpoint who will care for the pet after the pet owner dies, as well as the pet's veterinarian contact information and information about medications and diet.
Estate planning in Texas can seem like a laborious task. This is especially true for those with a large number of assets that have to be addressed. An attorney can offer assistance with drafting a detailed estate plan that fully considers the estate owner's wishes when it comes to taking care of his or her family members, perhaps even including man's best friend.
Source: Forbes, "Estate Planning: Include Your Pets!", Rob Clarfeld, March 30, 2017