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  • Writer's pictureCook Tillman

What happens when animals are left out of an estate plan?

In previous posts, we have discussed how and why pet owners across Tennessee can set up a trust for the benefit of their companion animal. These trusts are becoming an increasingly common way to set aside resources for their pets.

However, even if you do not set up a trust for your pet, owners should still take steps to address their animals in an estate plan. Failure to do so could have some unintended and upsetting consequences.

The pet could be given up

If a pet outlives its owner, someone else will need to take care of it. If no one is appointed to this role in a will, and if there are no loved ones who can or will take in the animal, it can be sent to a shelter where it may or may not be adopted or euthanized.

The animal may receive substandard care

If someone does step up to claim ownership of an animal, there is no guarantee that he or is the type of person an owner would have wanted to do so. Someone who takes in a pet through obligation or choice may not be suited to provide the same level of care as the owner provided. The animal could be at risk of being neglected or mistreated.

Relationships can be ruined over pet fights

There are also cases where multiple want to keep a pet. This can lead to contentious fights that pit people against each other and turn an animal into more of a trophy. This can destroy relationships, which is something most pet owners would not want.

Considering how much can be at stake when it comes to the welfare of an animal and other loved ones, it can be crucial to include preparations and directions for a pet in an estate plan. Doing so can eliminate confusion among family members and ensure your pet receives the care you want it to have during a difficult transition.


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