If your household includes pets, whether they have fur, feathers or fins, you can use a pet trust to protect pets when you have passed away or when you are no longer able to take care of your pets or yourself. A pet trust provides specific instructions to caretakers and also provides funding.
AZ Central’s article, “Who will care for your beloved pet after you're gone? A trust can help with that,” says that it's hard to guess the number of people who have trusts to benefit pets. It’s still a relatively new concept. However, more people are learning that you can and should include pets in estate planning. Many pet lovers find that a trust is appealing and worth the cost.
A trust lets assets be transferred to others without going through probate. They also can provide ongoing financial support for beneficiaries who might burn though a lump sum. A revocable living trust can be changed, dissolved or redrafted, while you're still living and competent.
These are packaged frequently with documents like a pour-over will (for assets not titled into the trust) and financial and health-care powers of attorney, which appoints another person to act on your behalf in case of incapacity.
A pet trust designates a trusted person or organization to provide ongoing care for your animals and gives them the money to do so. Many people make informal arrangements. They ask friends or relatives to take in their animals, but without a trust or other legal document, there's no guarantee that your instructions will be followed.
As part of the process, an owner can detail how much medical care should be given to a pet, especially an older one (when euthanasia might be the preferred route). Trusts can help you prepare for those and other contingencies, so you’d have some control over what happens to your pet.
Designating the right trustee is critical. That is the person or organization entrusted with carrying out your wishes.
If you decide not to create a pet trust and just hope that writing down some instructions and coming to an agreement with a friend or relative will protect your pet, remember that this will not be legally binding. There would be nothing stopping your friend or family member from leaving your pet at a shelter and taking the money for their own use. With a trust, you gain peace of mind.
Creating instructions and leaving funds for care of your pet can be an important part of creating an estate plan. Maybe clients feel relieved that they are able to care for their beloved pets after their passing. If you would like to create an estate plan that includes your dog, cat, horse, bird, or any animal, please contact our office today for an initial consultation.
(The featured cat is "Mikki", one of Client Service Coordinator Russell Rososky's four cats.)
Reference: AZ Central (March 25, 2017) “Who will care for your beloved pet after you're gone? A trust can help with that”