Pet trusts

Pet Trusts (Estate Planning For Your Pets)

Pets are considered
part of the family. Now it is time to start taking care of them and there
future like you would for the rest of your family. Thankfully, the law has
created a way to do so. If you haven’t considered it already, it is time to
consider creating a pet trust. While an estate plan is very comprehensive, many
people overlook the pet that is left behind. Leaving behind a pet without a plan
put in place can create a burden for those who are supposed to manage you
estate after you’re gone. By creating a pet trust, you can create a plan that
provides food, shelter, and care for your beloved pet.

Can I include my pet in my estate plan?

Yes. Although a
pet is considered a close companion, the law considers them personal property,
making it critical to choose the correct planning method. There are two options
to provide for your pet in your estate plan, a will or a trust.

Will my will suffice?

Providing for
your pet through your will is the easiest option, but it has some drawbacks.
Anything that is covered in your will has to go through the process of probate.
Probate can be time consuming and does not always guarantee that your wishes
will be fulfilled. Additionally, the time it takes to go through probate will
create a void in the care of your pet after you are gone. Pets require love,
food, and shelter everyday and the probate process can interrupt the care your
pet needs. Going through the probate process can put the care and even
ownership of your pet at risk, so it is important to explore other options.

What is a trust?

A trust is an
entity set up to accomplish a specific purpose. An attorney will work closely
with you to understand your wants and needs to make sure they are fulfilled. When
working with the attorney you will decide who is the trustee and beneficiary
and how the trust will be funded. In doing so, you can decide who will be the
caretaker of your pet and the appropriate method to financially provide for the
needs of the pet. Additionally, creating a trust will avoid the probate
process, so that your pet will be provided for immediately after you are gone.

How does setting up a trust provide for
my pet?

Unlike a will, a
trust will become effective immediately upon death or disability according to
the terms of the trust. The terms of the trust will be decided by you and the
attorney upon the creation of the trust. The trust will outline the details
about the care of your pet and will also make funds available to the caretaker.
Your trust can be as specific as you desire including the daily care, physical
control, medical attention, and even the burial of your pet. 

What types of trusts will work?

A ‘pet trust’ is
just a normal trust that will provide for your pet. The pet cannot be a
beneficiary of the trust since it is considered personal property and would not
be able to enforce the terms of the trust. Choosing the beneficiary must be carefully
considered when structuring the trust. When creating the trust, make sure to carefully
word the directives in order to accomplish your goals exactly how you want them
to be accomplished.