As elder law and estate planning attorneys, we are tightly focused on the needs of senior citizens. It is a broad subject, and there are many facets to take into consideration. Some of them are purely practical in nature, but there are some that are emotional and psychological.
Loneliness is very common among elders. According to the National Institute on Aging, approximately 28 percent of older Americans (14 million people) are living alone, and many of them experience loneliness. In addition to the psychological and emotional challenge that are presented, loneliness can contribute to physical health problems.
Pet ownership can provide a very effective solution on a number of different levels. A pet can give an elder a new sense of purpose, and this can have a sweeping positive psychological effect. There is suddenly a reason to get up in the morning, and dogs need walks, so seniors that are capable of this activity have an added motivation to get some exercise.
Dogs and cats are very entertaining, and one New Jersey psychotherapist has recognized a subtle but powerful effect that pet ownership can have on seniors. The animals live in the here and now with no heaviness or concerns about the future, and this attitude can be contagious.
A dog, even if it is a small breed, can provide added security because they will sound the bark alarm whenever they hear unusual sounds outside the door. It has even been suggested that seniors that own pets may recover memories from years ago because they do not constantly cling to negative thought processes.
There are seniors that really do not have any interest in owning pets for one reason or another, and this is understandable. However, if you look at the benefits objectively, they are considerable.
Many seniors would love to open their doors to a dog or a cat for much needed companionship, but they have concerns about longevity, and rightly so.
Under these circumstances, there is a solution that can be implemented in the form of a pet trust. If you create a pet trust, you fund the trust and you name a trustee to act as the trust administrator after you pass away. The individual or entity that serves as the trustee does not necessarily have to be the person that will care for the pet.
The reason why we use the term “entity” is because it is possible to use a professional trustee like a trust company or the trust department of a bank.
In the trust declaration, you can leave specific instructions with regard to the way you want the animal to be cared for after you pass away. The trustee has a fiduciary duty under the law, so they would be compelled to follow your directions to the letter.
You do not have to worry about what happens to money that is left in the trust after the death of the pet. You can name a successor beneficiary in the trust document, and this individual or organization would assume ownership of any remaining funds when the time comes.
Access Our Estate Planning Worksheet
We have taken a brief look at one potential scenario in this post, and it underscores the fact that there is a sound estate planning solution that can be implemented to address just about any situation. If you would like to learn more about the process, we have a fantastic resource that you can access through this website.
Our team has prepared a worksheet that you can use to gain a more thorough understanding of the steps that must be taken to effectively prepare for the eventualities of aging. This resource is being offered free of charge right now, so there is no reason to take pause. Simply visit our estate planning worksheet page to obtain access to your copy.
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