Pets are like family to us, but when it comes to the law, they are generally seen as property, much like a vehicle or a valuable piece of jewelry. Therefore, although you might want to leave money for your pets to ensure their wellbeing, you cannot accomplish this in the same manner as you would if you were to leave money for your child. Moreover, even if you mention your pets in your will, there is no guarantee your wishes will be carried out.
What a Pet Trust Can Do for You
Instead of taking a chance on the wellbeing of your pet, you can opt for a pet trust, which is a legally enforceable arrangement that ensures your pet or pets will receive the care they need. If you make provisions for your pet in a will, the person charged with this task is under no obligation to care for the pet. If you choose a pet trust, however, the trustee is legally obligated to comply with your instructions.
Below are some of the benefits of obtaining a pet trust:
- Pet trusts can withstand tougher legal challenges from family members who are displeased with some of your decisions
- The instructions you provide can include specific details, including the brand of food the caregiver must purchase
- Your pet trust is effective immediately after your death, whereas a will can take months to execute
- To ensure the caregiver is following instructions, you can request periodic inspections in your pet trust
- If you become incapacitated, your pet trust can still apply
- Instead of giving all the money upfront to a pet guardian, you can control the timing of payments to ensure the funds are not misused
How Does it Work?
Much like other estate planning trusts, your pet trust can be as detailed as you design it to be. When creating your pet trust, you must choose at least two caregivers since a person’s circumstances might change during your pet’s life. Before you make your selections, discuss the terms of your pet trust with prospective trustees before they agree and continue to remind them over the years of their future duties.
Your pet might not use all the money you leave behind for its care during its lifetime, so you should also choose a remainder beneficiary, which can be an organization or a person.
The Dangers of Leaving Money for Someone to Care for Your Pet
It probably sounds simpler to leave money for someone you trust to care for your pet and, although it is certainly possible that your chosen person might use the funds you provide to care for your pet, there are no guarantees. You can potentially leave hundreds or thousands of dollars and, once the caregiver receives the money, your pet might end up in a shelter while the caregiver enjoys the funds. A pet trust will prevent this nightmare scenario from occurring. With a pet trust, the caregiver you select will not receive all of the money you left behind for your pet. Moreover, the trustee will also conduct regular wellness checks to ensure your pet is receiving the care outlined in your pet trust. Ultimately, if you want peace of mind that your pet will not suffer in your absence, this option will provide the appropriate safeguards.
Create a Pet Trust Today!
If you own a pet and have concerns about who will care for it in your absence, you should consider creating a pet trust to ensure they receive the necessary care. At Kitzke & Canfield LLC, our law firm will help you create an effective and detailed pet trust that provides the peace of mind you need. You will never have to wonder who will care for your pet when you are not around. Backed by more than 40 years of combined experience, you can rely on our knowledge and insight to assist you in this task.
Contact our law office today at (262) 387-0706 to set up a consultation with a member of our team.