Pet Trusts (Estate Planning For Your Pets)

Legal Article

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 your 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 every day 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.