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Can I include my pet in my Michigan estate plan?

Good news for pet owners: You can make plans for your animal friends when you are putting together your estate plan. While you cannot leave money to an animal, you can make sure that your pet is taken care of in the event that you pass away.

Michigan law has established that people may put a pet trust in place. Pets are still considered property, so you are not allowed to leave them property or money. However, through putting a trust in place, you can set aside cash to provide for your pet's wellbeing. You can also outline who will take care of your pet and how that care should be provided.

A few items you should know about establishing a pet trust: 

  • They are only good for 21 years.
  • A court can remove the pet from the trustee’s care if he or she is not taking proper care of the animal.
  • A court can also limit how much you leave in a pet trust if it seems excessive.

If you put a trust in place, you should also name someone who can enforce the terms of the trust and ensure that the person caring for your pet is doing his or her job.

People who do not want to make a trust may also simply write a clause into a will that leaves the pet to a trustworthy friend or family member. You can also then leave that person a sum of money to help cover the cost of caring for the animal.

While this information may be useful, it should not be taken as legal advice.

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