Leaving money in an estate plan to pets is a relatively new phenomenon. In the past, people would leave pets to family members and hope that the family members would take care of them. If they did not have any family, they might leave their pets to a trusted friend. Today, it is fairly common for people to just give a portion of their estates to their pets. It is relatively easy to do in the United States.
However, it is not easy everywhere. Recently, a wealthy Italian woman left her entire estate to her dog. Italian law does not allow anyone to give money to an animal directly, so the woman had to carefully construct her Will to make sure that an Executor will use the estate for the purpose of providing for the dog.
In the United States, we are fortunate that we do not have the same problem. If you want to leave money to a pet, you can use a Pet Trust. It is not necessarily more difficult to do than it is to create any other type of Trust. Why not talk to an estate planning attorney to see how easy it can be for you?
Some of our clients tell is they like their pets more than their kids. We think they’re joking, but there is a serious issue here. Many animals are orphaned or euthanized each year because their owners have not thought of them in their estate planning.
The law of many states today, Iowa and Illinois included, now makes it possible to leave an enforceable pet estate plan.
Illinois law: http://animallaw.info/statutes/stusilstch760_5_15_2.htm