Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Friday, July 29, 2011

Leaving Inheritances to Pets and Posthumously Conceived Children

Pets Successfully leaving behind money to pets or posthumously conceived children is a growing request among individuals today. Often times these requests are accomplished through the creation of a trust or by including specific instructions in an estate plan.

Estate planners typically recommend setting up a formal trust to ensure that a pet is properly cared for after the owner’s death. Two types of pet trusts exist, a traditional trust (effective in all states) and a statutory trust (effective in forty-six states plus the District of Columbia). The pet trust can be a living or testamentary trust.Though a living trust can cost between $1,500 and $6,000 to set up, it provides additional protection by ensuring that a pet is cared for in the event the owner is disabled.

When it comes to leaving money to a posthumously conceived child, many estate planners turn to Social Security survivor-benefits cases for guidance on the inheritance rights of these children. The intent of the deceased parent whose genetic material is used posthumously to conceive the child plays a large role in a court’s decision of the child’s inheritance rights. The best way to ensure that a posthumously conceived child will receive his or her inheritance is to specifically state the inheritance and include specific instructions in the estate plan.

See Saabira Chaudhuri, When Estate Plans Fail: Many People Overlook Arcane Issues, from Pets to the Unborn, The Weekend Investor, Jul. 23, 2011.

For more information on planning for your pets, see Gerry W. Beyer & Barry Seltzer, Fat Cats & Lucky Dogs – How to Leave (Some of) Your Estate to Your Pets (2010).

Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (WealthCounsel) for bringing this article to my attention.


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I am find with pets having Trusts, I just don't want pets to get itemized deductions, here is a funny joke I saw about people leaving money to pets, http://ponderingstuff.com/2011/10/23/petsinwill/

Posted by: Tristan | Oct 23, 2011 6:54:41 PM

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