Many pet parents consider their pets to be furry family members. Unfortunately, when considering matters of law, pets are property in the eyes of the courts. If you get ill or worse, you pass away, the courts will decide what happens to your pet. This is especially important if you don’t have children or a trusted friend to adequately provide for your pet. More often than not, when someone deals with a long term illness or passes away, their beloved pet ends up in a shelter. By making some solid plans now, you can ensure that your pet will be taken care of. The best way to do this is by reaching out to an estate planner and setting up a “Pet Trust”.
So, how does a Pet Trust work?
A Pet Trust puts you in control of your pet’s future care and well-being. This trust is legally sanctioned document that will allow you to specify and lay out how you want your pet cared for in the event disability or death becomes imminent. You will be able to assign a caregiver for your pet. This caregiver will be mandated to follow are directives in the trust. You can be as specific as you want to. In fact, the more details the better. You can specify how many times you want your pet taken to the vet or groomed as well as what food, toys, supplements etc. that you want your pet to have and on what frequency. You will also assign a person to manage the trust. A trustee is assigned to ensure funds are disbursed timely and properly as well as keep an eye on the trust to help it grow through investments. In most states a Pet Trust will stay in effect for 21 years, however there are states that will allow the trust to follow through the lifespan of the pet. This may be particularly helpful if you have other animals that may exceed the 21 years, such as horses.
What can I do now?
Unfortunately, you never know when you may become disabled or pass away. If only we had a crystal ball to know such things. We don’t, so you need to meet with an estate planner now. Don’t leave it to chance that you will outlive your pets. Doing so is grossly negligent on your part. You really need to think about how you would feel should your pet outlive you and what you would like to happen to your pet. Your estate planner will discuss with you how much money you will need and will attend to all the details of setting up the trust so that your pet can keep up the standard of living that they have grown accustomed to. Your estate planner will also help you designate a beneficiary should your pet pass away before all funds have been used up in the Pet Trust.
Take action now. Don’t let another day pass before you solidify the your pet’s security and well-being should you become disabled or pass away during your pet’s lifetime.