Have a pet that is more than a pet but a member of the family? Many Illinois residents in this position want to make sure that these special family members are taken care of long after their owners pass away. Guess, what? Through the estate planning process, it is possible to ensure one’s pet ends up in a good place and has what it  needs.

The idea of leaving assets to a pet is not new. It has become a topic of conversation, though, over the last few weeks when it was revealed that a famed designer supposedly left millions to his cat. Karl Lagerfeld was well-known to the fashion world. He died in February, leaving behind an estate valued at roughly $200 million. His cat is named a partial beneficiary of the estate.

One does not have to be a millionaire to name a pet as a beneficiary. Anyone can do this, but to ensure one’s wishes are actually carried out it is suggested that a custodian — someone who will actually take care of the animal — be named, as well as a trustee — someone who will manage the animal’s assets. It is typically recommended that the custodian and the trustee be separate individuals.

It is one thing to briefly mention that a family pet is a beneficiary of one’s estate and another thing to actually have a plan in place for how that will work. Without listing the finer details, it will be easy for one’s wishes to be overlooked and the assets passed on to other beneficiaries. Illinois residents who wish to include their pets as beneficiaries of their estates can turn to an estate planning attorney who will be able to make sure everything is in order to make one’s wish a reality.