Who doesn’t consider their pet a member of the family? It’s heart wrenching to think about them being gone, even scarier to think what will happen when we are gone. Many assume a friend or relative will step up and care for their pets; in reality, a lot of these animals end up in shelters simply because their owner did not properly plan for their care. Only legally enforceable documents can guarantee a pet’s security. Act now to protect your pet’s future!
Is a Will enough?
A will kicks into action after your passing, meaning it has no power if you become incapacitated. Wills disburse property; you can designate who your pet will go to, but a Will cannot ensure they are cared for, and are not designed to pay for pet expenses over time. Lets suppose you appoint “Uncle Steve” to care for Sparky and allocate $5,000 for the cause. Instead, shady Steve takes that money, heads to Rocky Point, and abandons Sparky!
What about your Trust?
Your existing Trust is valid during your life, and will continue to have authority after your death, securing your pet’s future! It can contain a Pet Provision where you name a pet caretaker, and alternates if your first choice cannot do the job. Your Trust can allocate funds annually for the care of your pet, and you can even provide for future pets so that you will not have to amend your Trust as you add to your family. Your Trustee can manage care according to your wishes. If sweet Aunt Dorothy is unable to care for Toto, your Trustee can step in to find a new loving home.
A Standalone Pet Trust!
If (sometimes) you love your pets more than your children, consider a standalone Pet Trust! Unlike Wills that require a lengthy probate, a Trust will bypass probate and avoid delays in executing your wishes upon your death or incapacity. A Standalone Pet Trust is an entire Trust dedicated to your furry (scaly, feathery, slimy) friends.
A Pet Trust has 3 key parts: Instructions for how you wish your pet to be cared for in your absence, Appointment of a caretaker, and Allocation of funds for food, vet care, and recreation.
The beauty of a Trust is that you can be as specific as you see fit, ensuring your pet maintains their standard of living. This is a great option when planning for exotic, numerous, or special needs pets. In the event of your incapacity, you can even specify that your bundle of fur join you in a retirement home!
Don’t let your beloved pet become an abandoned Cujo! Protect those without a voice, and plan now to secure your pet’s future. Whether by a simple Trust amendment adding a provision for your pet’s care, or drawing up an entire Standalone Pet Trust, consult with an Estate Planning attorney in order to Leave a Legacy, Not a Burden!