As you set up arrangements to care for your family in Washington after your death, you may wish to include your pets in these considerations. Including your pets in your will is one way to go about this, but is it feasible?
The short answer to the question is yes, you can include your pets in your will. Whether or not this is the best option for your animals is another story.
Including pets in your will
A will provides a lot of flexibility and options in terms of what you request for the recipients of your estate. You can entrust any pets that survive you to a family member or specified caretaker, and also specify that the animal receives a level of care that you desire.
The issue with taking this route, however, is that once the will has been fully executed and the probate process is complete, nobody is held to any legal requirements when it comes to taking care of the pets you have left behind. If you want to have complete peace of mind in knowing that your pets will be well-taken care of for the remainder of their days, a pet trust may be preferable.
The advantages of a pet trust
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals states that a pet trust is a legally sanctioned arrangement for your surviving animal, and thus it obligates the people named as trustees to adhere to the terms. In a pet trust, you can designate an amount of funds that must be used solely to care for the pet.
You can also require the trustee to regularly inspect the animal, specify a standard of living and care, and identify your pet to avoid fraud. You can even designate whether your animal is to be cremated or buried when it finally does pass on.