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Estate Planning for Your Pet

[fa icon="clock-o"] May 22, 2019 9:00:00 AM [fa icon="user"] The MacMillan Estate Planning Team [fa icon="folder-open'] pets, pet trusts, purpose trusts

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For many, a pet is far more than just an animal. Whether it’s a cat, a dog, or an iguana, this household companion can feel like a beloved member of the family. Considering both this emotional significance and cost of pet care, you may want to factor it into your estate plan.

Death and Pets

In many ways, a pet is an asset, and this is especially true of those that are exotic or quite valuable. You’ll want complete peace of mind knowing that after your death, this beloved part of your life will live comfortably and be well cared for. Depending on the preference of the pet owner, different estate planning methods may be pursued to account for your animal friend. In some cases, it may suffice to designate your pet as a testamentary gift to a trusted beneficiary, along with a sum of money that you will dictate to be used for the cost of its care. Naturally, it’s important to bestow this responsibility upon someone who is fully willing and able to meet it.

Arranging a Pet Trust

While it’s fairly common for testators to see their pets as emotionally or even financially valuable assets, some see their animal companions as surviving relatives. In this case, an extra degree of control is needed to ensure that your pet maintains a high quality of life after your death and experiences the same care you provided for it during your lifetime. While you cannot designate your pet as a beneficiary of any property, you can set up a pet trust. Technically speaking, this would be what’s called a purpose trust. You can designate a trustee who will utilize the funds of the trust to care for the pet in precisely the ways that you dictate in the trust provisions.

A Few Considerations

One thing to bear in mind when configuring a pet trust is that, in and of itself, the trust does not ensure that the trustee will fulfill his or her obligations to your pet. You can account for this by designating a backup trustee and/or a protector to keep tabs on the trustee. Meanwhile, in some provinces, this type of trust will only be in place for up to 21 years, while in others they can exist in perpetuity. Finally, pet trusts can come with certain tax considerations that will vary depending on your region. If you want to structure and implement a trust that can provide a comfortable and happy life for your cherished pet, your family office will ensure that it’s done effectively!

For two decades, MacMillan Estate Planning has been safeguarding significance for families in Calgary, throughout Canada, and abroad. Whether it’s your spouse, child, or pet, a loved one deserves to be cared for, and we’ll always be there to help. Call us at 1 (833) 266-6464 today!


At MacMillan Estate Planning, our team of professional trust and estate practitioners, chartered accountants, financial planners, and legal professionals look forward to assisting you with the design of your estate plan and will ensure you build, protect, and enjoy your wealth. The information provided is general and may not be suited to your objectives or sufficient to ensure the protection of you and your family. You should not act on this information without providing MacMillan Estate Planning with the opportunity to ensure that it is suitable for your unique situation.


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