Like any pet owner in Oklahoma, you consider your pets a part of the family. However, as you may know, the courts do not have the same opinion. Animals are legally considered property. As such, you cannot simply leave money or property to your pets in your will, but you can take several actions to ensure your pets do not become homeless if you die before them or become incapacitated.
One way to safeguard your pets’ future is to leave them in your will to another member of your family you trust. Ideally, you would discuss this with the benefactor in question before including it in your will. If you expect no complications from this arrangement, leaving your pets to someone in your will can be fairly straightforward and give you peace of mind.
However, as the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals explains, there are reasons you may want to consider writing a pet trust instead of putting your pets in your will. Your beloved dog or cat may have health problems requiring medication and specialized veterinary care. Instead of passing away before your pets do, you may become disabled and unable to care for your pets, but still want to have them visit you. You may have an animal considered exotic by veterinary standards, such as a parrot or reptile, which would require detailed instructions for care. Or, you may simply have specific preferences regarding their food, exercise, toys and veterinary schedule. Like other trusts, a pet trust can include instructions that are as detailed as you wish, and you can fund the trust so the money goes where you want it to go.
Since writing a will or trust can be complex, this information is not meant to replace the advice of a lawyer.