Including Your Pets in Your Estate: Lawyers in San Antonio Can Help You do it
Pets are important to people—often they are as beloved as children. Cats, dogs, birds or other animals provide their owners with comfort, affection and companionship for years. News stories of pets saving children from drowning and protecting families from intruders give animals a place in our hearts and homes. And now, with the help of your lawyers in San Antonio and in accordance with a relatively recent Texas law, pets can have a place in our estate plans, as well, as this article in My San Antonio Online outlines.
Many unanticipated situations can occur that require immediate care for your pets. Illness, injury or gradual aging and restrictions in movement and mobility can inhibit your ability to care for your pets. Having a plan to ensure that they won’t be abandoned in your incapacitation or after your death can feel overwhelming, but it’s something that most pet owners want to do, and several lawyers in San Antonio are equipped to help you put a plan in place.
Some simple steps you can follow before getting the legal paperwork in place include establishing back-up caretaker arrangements. Having someone who has agreed to look in on your pets and is familiar with their needs is a great resource for unanticipated emergencies. It’s always good to have written instructions for your pets as well—where their food is kept and whether they take medications. Any veterinarian information should be available for caretakers in the event that you cannot be there as well.
Lawyers in San Antonio helping people establish a legacy for their pets strongly encourage that you have a Durable Power of Attorney in place. It would allow an agent to provide for your pets on your behalf using funds that you’ve set aside for them. Additionally, in 2006, Texas legislature passed an amendment to the Texas Property Code allowing individuals to establish a trust for the care of their pets that are alive during the owner’s lifetime.
Your attorneys can help you draft the paperwork, but there are essentially two options: a Living Trust or a Will. In a Living Trust, you are able to add a provision for the welfare of your animals during any time that you become disabled or temporarily incapacitated. If your specific directions are included within your Will, they are titled a testamentary Pet Trust, which won’t take effect until after your death. So, some plan would need to be implemented for pet care in the event of your disability or temporary incapacitation.
Your lawyers in San Antonio would be able to inform you of the ins and outs of the 2006 Texas law, such as the limitations on funds allowably allocated to pets after your death (currently specified as what is reasonably required for the care of the animals). Pet owners in Texas can be grateful for the provisions that allow individuals to express with clarity and legally binding terms their wishes for their pets. Reducing uncertainty and improving peace of mind when it comes to the care of their little loved ones goes a long way.