Any pet owner will tell you that a pet is more than just an animal. Pets are members of our family. Just as we make plans for the distribution of our assets to our friends and family after our passing, it is also important to make plans for your furry loved ones. The most straight forward way to do this is to include an express provision in your Will stating who you want to receive custody of your pet after you die. Although this is simple and to the point, it does not account for the other potential complications that may arise with pets. For example, what if the person you designate in your Will is unable to care for the pet due to a restrictive living arrangement? That person may also not have the financial resources necessary to care for your pet, as veterinary care, grooming, fencing, and medicine for a pet can all get costly. One way to help address these issues is a pet trust.
With a pet trust, like other trusts, you transfer assets into the trust. These assets will be used to provide for the pet’s financial needs. You will also name an individual to be the trustee and another person to be the pet’s caretaker. This person will be responsible for making the disbursements from the trust in accordance with your wishes. For example, the trust can provide that funds are to be distributed at regular intervals in order to help pay for food and flea prevention. Alternatively, you could provide that the money is only to be distributed when the pet’s caretaker provides receipts for veterinary care to the trustee. It is up to you how you want the disbursements to be made, but remember that you want the process to be simple for the pet caretaker and not be overly burdensome. It is also possible for you to name the same person as both the trustee and the pet’s caretaker. This will simplify the procedure, but is dependent upon whether you believe the pet’s caretaker is sufficiently responsible with money to make smart decisions. You can also provide for back-up caretakers or trustees in the event those that you initially designate are unable or unwilling to serve in their designated capacity.
We understand that pets are family members. Call us today to talk about what we can put in place to make sure your pets are provided for after you pass.