Just like your human family, you should plan for the care and support of your four-legged or feathered family after you pass. Setting up a pet trust as part of your estate plan will help ensure your pets are cared for.
Important questions you should address include:
- Who will care for my pet?
- How will my pet’s care be provided and paid for?
The first question could be answered by having a human friend or family member who will take your pet into her home. Another alternative would be to arrange for your pet to go to a no-kill animal shelter or, perhaps, the breeder or agency your pet came from. Whoever that is, you need to ensure that the name and contact information for that caretaker is included in your estate plan so that your friends and family know who will care for your pet.
It will cost money to care for your pets. For example, the annual cost of owning a dog can be hundreds, or thousands, of dollars. That can be a major expense for the person who agrees to care for your pet. You can ensure that assets are available to provide for your pets’ care by setting up a pet trust. A pet trust can pay for expenses such as your pet’s medical needs, rabies shots, food, and maintenance.
You might think it’s sufficient to leave a sum of money and your pet to someone you trust. But there is no way to ensure that the friend you have named will use the funds for the benefit of your pet. A pet care trust ensures that the funds you leave are used for the benefit of your pets and not the benefit of their caretaker.
A pet care trust leaves your assets or portion of your assets to a trustee for the specific purpose of providing for your pets. It is not the same as leaving funds directly to an individual with the intention of providing for your pets. It allows someone to ensure that your assets are being used for the benefit of your pet after you are gone. This type of trust could also include the use of your home for the benefit of your animal(s).
You will need to consult with an estate planning attorney about creating a pet trust. Your attorney will be able to discuss with you the other essential elements of your trust plan such as who will manage the assets of the trust for your pet.
Planning now with a trusted legal professional will ensure that your pet continues to receive the love, support, and care that you currently provide.