At BFS Law Group, we love our pets! Many pet owners consider their dog or cat or other pet to be part of the family. So, it is not surprising that when people are considering their estate plans, they are often curious about what would become of their pets if something happened to them.
Even though we may treat them like four-legged family members, Texas law classifies pets as personal property. If a dog’s owner passes away, ownership of the dog passes with the rest of the owner’s property. The new owner is determined either according to the owner’s will (if there is one), or according to Texas law.
In reality, inheriting a pet is much different than inheriting furniture or a car. Pets are undoubtedly a very special and unique type of property, and not just anyone is willing or able to take on the responsibility for them. Many people are surprised to learn who would inherit their property in the absence of a will under Texas law. Often, the owner’s heir under Texas law is not who the owner would have chosen to inherit their pets.
There are several ways to provide for pets in your estate plan. The simplest is to designate a particular person of your choice to receive and care for your pets. That does not have to be the same person who inherits the rest of your property. You may want to leave most of your things to your closest family, but your best friend has a great backyard and knows just how your pup likes his ears scratched. With a simple will, you can rest assured that your furry friends will be in the hands of a fellow pet-lover!
Of course, pets can be expensive. If you think your chosen pet caretaker may need financial assistance, or if your pets have developed particularly expensive tastes, Texas law now allows you to set up a trust for the care of animals.
Please call to schedule a consultation with BFS Law Group, Texas estate planning and probate attorneys, to discuss your needs and circumstances. BFS Law Group attorneys are pet lovers themselves and would be more than happy to assist you.