Having an estate plan is good idea for everyone. If you do not make decisions about how to dispose of your property after you die, the State will decide for you! We encourage you to consult an attorney to discuss any estate planning decisions.
As you are making these plans, we ask you to consider making a provision in your estate to support the MSPCA-Angell.
There are several ways to provide a gift in your estate to the MSPCA-Angell:
- A fixed amount of money or specific property (stocks, real estate, etc.)
- A residual bequest, leaving a percentage or the entire remainder of your estate to the MSPCA-Angell after all else has been settled
- A life income bequest, paying income to a person of your choice for his or her lifetime after your death, with the principal donated to the MSPCA-Angell at the death of your beneficiaries
- A contingent bequest, naming the MSPCA-Angell as the recipient should other beneficiaries not survive you
Whichever type of bequest you choose, we suggest providing your attorney with the following language:
“I give ______________ (describe type of bequest here) to the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, incorporated in 1868, located at 350 South Huntington Ave., Boston, MA, 02130, for its general purposes.”
Gifts earmarked for our general purposes permit us to use the funds where they are most needed at the time of the gift. If you wish to restrict your bequest to a particular project, we’ll be happy to talk with you further about how your wishes can best be accomplished.
Another option is to designate MSPCA-Angell as a beneficiary of your retirement plan or life insurance policy. Like bequests, these designations are revocable during your lifetime. It can be quite simple to accomplish; usually all that is required is signing a beneficiary designation form on file with the insurance company or plan administrator. Retirement plan designations are especially attractive because charitable bequests do not result in any income tax due whereas individual beneficiaries are subject to income taxes.
Providing for Your Animal Companions after You Pass Away
In the event that you become incapacitated, either temporarily or permanently, you can create a Durable Power of Attorney that includes language giving your appointed attorney-in-fact (the person you name to manage your financial affairs in the event you are no longer able to do so) the authority to buy food, supplies, and medications for your pet, as well as to ensure that the animals continue to receive veterinary care, check-ups, and any medical support or ongoing maintenance needs. Providing this language in your Durable Power of Attorney is a great way to ensure your pets will be cared for if you become temporarily incapacitated due to an accident or medical care issue such as surgery, or, if the incapacity is longer-term or permanent.
Unfortunately, under the law, animals are property, but that makes it possible for you to include language in your will naming a person or persons to receive the animals after you pass away. This is called a bequest. Recipients are not legally obligated to accept the animals, so it’s important to have a conversation with the family member or friend designated to ensure that they will be willing to care for the animals. You can ensure that the person receiving the animals can care for them by giving that person a bequest of funds to provide for the animals’ ongoing care.
In Massachusetts, pets can be included in a pet trust. The trust is usually drafted to last for the lifetime of the animal or animals included in the trust, and to terminate on the death of the last pet. Trusts differ from wills in that they continue on for a term of years, whereas a will is a one-time distribution of property following death. Trusts can be set up to name a caregiver or custodian for the pet, and a trustee who is in charge of the money left for the care of the pet.
An estate-planning attorney can provide you with further details on all of these ways to include your pets in your estate plan documents.
Ensuring your pets are included is a great way to provide peace of mind to you for their ongoing care when you are no longer alive or able to do so.
PLEASE NOTE: The MSPCA–Angell is not operated by any national humane organization. We were founded in 1868 by George T. Angell, and we’ve been an independent nonprofit organization ever since.
The full name of our organization is the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals – Angell Animal Medical Center, or MSPCA–Angell. The MSPCA comprises our adoption center (shelter) operations, our Advocacy department, and our Law Enforcement Department. Angell Animal Medical Center is our nonprofit veterinary hospital.
If you have questions, please call/contact Raffaella Torchia at (617) 541-5011.