Our Beloved Pets – Love Them Today And Love Them Tomorrow With A Pet Trust
Whether you already have a pet or you are planning to adopt one (or several), it is important not to forget to make arrangements for their care if something should happen to you.
Consider a Pet Trust
Although many pet owners consider their pets as members of their family, they often neglect to include their pets in their estate planning. Pet owners may assume that family will care for their pets if they become ill or pass away. But this can create a dilemma for family members who are unable to afford the costs of caring for another pet or who may not be animal lovers themselves. In the worst-case scenario, your beloved pet could end up in a shelter, where it could be euthanized if it is not adopted.
Making arrangements for your pet in your will may not be the best option, because it leaves the fate of your pet in limbo while your estate is probated—a process that could take several months. In addition, even if you name a caretaker in your will and give that person a gift intended to be used for your pet’s care, with a will, there is no way to guarantee that your wishes are ultimately carried out: The person you named could just take the money and give your pet away. Because your pet becomes the property of that person, the caretaker is free to make decisions about it that might be contrary to your wishes. Also, if the caretaker has any creditors or liabilities, the money you have provided for your pet’s care will be vulnerable to claims made by the caretaker’s creditors.
A pet trust will ensure that a caretaker of your choice is in place as soon as you are no longer able to care for your pet. In addition, the terms of the trust are binding, and the money you provide for your pet’s care must be disbursed and spent in the way you have designated in the trust—and can’t be reached by the caretaker’s creditors. The caretaker has a fiduciary obligation to take care of your pet in the way you spell out in the trust, and the trustee has a fiduciary obligation to make sure that the funds provided to the caretaker are used only for the purposes described in the trust. The trust could specify that the trustee will distribute money to the caretaker only for the benefit of the pet. Alternatively, the trust could require the trustee to make payments directly to veterinarians and other service providers for the pet.
Steps to Set Up a Pet Trust
Some states have limitations on the length of a pet trust, for example, 21 years. This may not be long enough for pets with longer lifespans, so check with us to be sure that the trust you establish will last for your pet’s entire lifespan. The trust can be set up in another state if necessary.
Contact Us for Help
If you are concerned about what will happen to your pets if you are unable to care for them, we can help you make arrangements for their care. You can gain peace of mind by not leaving your pet’s future up to chance. A pet trust will ensure that your beloved companions are well cared for and that your wishes are respected.
Contact us to set up a consultation – (405) 857-8231
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