A pet trust provides protection for pets after the death of their owner.
Adopting pets was popular in 2020.
Some people were home alone and wanted company.
Others thought it was a good time to teach their children responsibility.
Whatever the reason, many pets found their way into homes and hearts.
According to a recent The Sentinel article titled “Elder Care: Estate planning for your furry friends,” pets are part of the family and should be considered in estate planning.
Although your pet will not be able to legally own assets, your estate plan should provide protection and financial support.
Taking care of a pet is not cheap.
Expenditures on pets totaled $103.6 billion in 2020 and included toys, bedding, food, veterinary care, training, grooming, and even portraits.
Although they certainly cost money, scientific studies have underscored the physical and emotional benefits of owning a pet.
It only makes sense to also ensure your pet is cared for when you die or become ill.
Although many individuals set up informal agreements with family or friends for the care of their pets and provide a sum of money for the services provided, there is no guarantee these agreements will be upheld or the money will be used appropriately.
In short, informal agreements are not enforceable.
Even with the best of intentions, situations can change.
Your friend may marry someone with an allergy to your pet.
They may have a pet who does not interact well with your furry family member.
What options do you have?
A pet trust can provide both accountability and control.
These have been recognized as lawful in all 50 states.
By setting one up, you can ensure your pet will be cared for while you are alive and when you die.
As a legal document, you can provide specific instructions for the care of your pet as well as direction for how the funds are to be used.
A trustee will manage the trust and its funds on behalf of your pet.
What should I consider prior to creating a pet trust?
You will need to determine who you would like to serve as the caretaker for your pet.
It is important to designate a primary caregiver as well as a contingent caretaker to account for the possibility of your first choice being unable to perform the role when the time arrives to do so.
When creating a pet trust, you should detail the preferences of your pet.
If your pet is AKC registered, you should include the formal and informal names.
Failing to do so may lead to legal challenges.
You will need to decide whether you want the same individual to serve as caretaker and trustee or whether you would prefer to divide these duties.
Someone may be a wonderful caretaker for your pet but terrible with finances.
Lastly, you should designate what will happen to the remaining money in the trust when the pet dies.
Some people choose to leave it to the caretaker and others choose to leave it to a charitable organization for animals, such as a rescue organization or a no-kill animal shelter.
Still others elect to leave the remainder to charities they already support.
You may be able to include a charitable remainders trust as part of the agreement.
By creating a pet trust, you will be providing protection and love to your pet for the rest of its life.
Reference: The Sentinel (Jan. 7, 2022) “Elder Care: Estate planning for your furry friends.”