Why a Pet Trust?

Why a Pet trust? When most people think of creating an estate plan, the conversation focuses on the spouse, the children, and in some cases the grandkids. Unless encouraged to do so, rarely is the protection of ones “furry children,” considered. Yet, if they are part of the  family, then protecting them is important. Ask yourself, “What happens to my pet when I die, become incapacitated, or I’m just unable to care for them?”

Providing for your pets is also important because they have feelings, too. It can be difficult for them when you die or become incapacitated. This is especially true if you are close. When there is no plan in place, your furry family member could be neglected or abandoned. Is that what you’d want? The pet trust provides a legal tool to ensure that your beloved dog, cat, bunny, horse, or other pet is properly protected.

What is a Pet Trust.

It is essentially a trust that  ensures your animals are cared for if and when you are unable to do so. It can either be a standalone trust document or incorporated into an existing trust. If you love your pets, your overall estate plan strategy should include a pet trust. Your estate plan is designed to protect what matters to you. You may outlive your pets, and maybe not. Protect their interests just in case.

How a Pet Trust Works.

  1. Determine how much money you want to leave for the care of your pet(s). Consider food, veterinary bills, grooming, and other items that relate to the care and maintenance of your animals.
  2. Identify your pet trustee. When the pet trust becomes active (upon your death or incapacity) the trustee manages the funds set aside for your pet’s care.
  3. Who will be the caretaker? The trustee could be one and the same. But, maybe the caretaker has custody of your pet and is responsible for your pet’s care. 
  4. After your pet or the last of your pets has died, the trust may terminate. That depends on your wishes. If you have no pets at the time of your death, any remaining funds could be distributed to your remainder beneficiaries.

Francine D. Ward
Attorney-At-Law, Author, Speaker

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