Most people who have pets understand that a significant bond is created between the animal and its owner. Many people, however, fail to consider what to do if something happens to their animal after they die. Statistics suggest that over 500,000 animals each year are abandoned due to the death of the animal’s owner. With adequate planning, however, these pets can be protected. Some of the advantages of including a pet in an estate plan are that it helps to make sure there is someone to take care of the animal after the owner’s death. Also estate plans help to provide clear instructions about the animal’s care. There are fortunately several available methods for a person to make sure that their pet is care for after their death.
Some people decide to leave their pet as well as a gift of money or property for the care of their pet directly to a family member or friend. This gift is often made on the condition that the caregiver receives the assets on the condition that they be used to care for their pet. This option is often best for people who are certain that their chosen caregiver is trustworthy. The difficulty with pet planning in this way, however, provides no way to monitor a pet’s caregiver and make sure that assets are used to care for a pet.
Creating a Trust for a Pet
A second option to care for a pet is the establishment of a pet trust. While these trusts were once only used by the rich and famous, these trusts are now gaining significant popularity. These pet trusts allow a person to have more control over their pet’s fate. Pet trusts involve written documents that nominate both a caregiver and a trustee. Pet trusts require a person to name a remainder beneficiary who will inherit the remaining trust funds after the death of the pet.
The Elements of a Pet Trust
A large number of pet trusts are written to become effective when the pet’s owner dies. Pet trusts often address several points, which include the following:
- The appointed caretaker. Selecting a caretaker is frequently the most challenging part of creating a pet trust. This individual will have custody of your pet and be responsible for the animal’s daily care.
- Money to be used for the animal’s care. Estimate how much it will take to care for the animal. The exact amount can vary significantly based on the pet’s age and condition.
- Caretaking Instructions. Pet trusts often provide very detailed instructions for the animal’s caregiver.
- Trust Enforcer. Trusts often name a person who will make sure that the money is being properly spent on the pet and not used for any other reason.
Obtain the Services of a Skilled Estate Planning Attorney
If you do not have a friend or family member who is able to properly care for your pet, it is still important to remember that a person has options. Your veterinarian might able to look for the animal and there might even be pet retirement homes in your area. By speaking with an experienced attorney like Jim A Lyon today, you can make sure that your pet is properly cared for after your death. Contact our firm today.