Joan Rivers’ Estate is a Prime Example of Proper Pet Planning

Joan Rivers left behind an estate estimated to be worth $150 million. Reports indicate that her estate was relatively simple – she left the majority of her estate to her only daughter, Melissa, and to her grandson. Then there was a more complicated estate planning strategy utilized by Rivers – she made sure her dogs would be taken care of after her passing. She owned two rescue dogs who lived in her New York apartment and two other dogs who lived in her California home. Rivers made sure to designate who would take care of her pets and left adequate funds for their care.

Many pet owners worry that providing for pets through their estate plan could be more costly than it’s worth. However, it isn’t as hard as some people might think.

Trust laws vary in each state, but traditional pet trusts are effective and available in all 50 states. These pet trusts allow you to make very specific arrangements about the type of care you want your pets to receive and who you designate for their care will be used during the pets’ lifetime. In addition to naming particular caretakers both for the pets themselves and for the money left for their care, pet trusts let you go into as much detail as you want about how exactly your pets should be treated, according to Daily Finance.

Unfortunately, many people fail to set up a pet trust since it requires an up-front cost that may dissuade pet owners from following through. If that is the case, many states offer a different type of trust called a statutory pet trust. This type of trust makes it much simpler for pet owners to provide for their furry friends. Rather than requiring the owner to list duties and responsibilities, these trusts incorporate basic default provisions that give pet caretakers broad discretion to use their judgment to care of your pets.

Either way you go, it is important to have some sort of plan in place. Otherwise, your beloved pet may end up in shelter. If you are looking to set up a pet trust, it is best to sit down and speak to an experience estate planning attorney in your area.

For more information about pet trusts, check out this article we published back in December