For those of us who have pets that would be left behind after we die, there may be a desire to make arrangements for their well-being. Making provisions for pets in your will can only be done through the establishment of a trust. Pets are considered property and, as such, cannot be left money or property directly.
A trust is an entity that is established to receive and hold money and property for the benefit of designated beneficiaries which can be people, pets, organizations or other entities. There are two trust options for pet care.
With a traditional trust, you name a trustee to administer the money, and also appoint a caregiver for your pet. In your will, you designate money or property to be received by the trust. If life insurance proceeds are to be used, you would designate the trust as the beneficiary of the policy. Remember, you can divide up life insurance proceeds between multiple beneficiaries in the event you have other people or organizations you want to benefit.
A statutory trust can be specified within your will. It is a statement that indicates you are leaving money or property “in trust” to your pet. In this situation, however, the probate court is then responsible for appointing persons to serve as trustee and caregiver.
A pet protection agreement is a less formal option for providing for your pet. This is a simple agreement with another person to care for your pet after your passing. This could also be used in cases of incapacitation, just as you would execute a power of attorney for other affairs. This option makes sense if, for example, your pet’s life expectancy was limited, and not much money is into consideration.
Trusts for pets can be easy to establish, but there are some things to consider, such as the following:
- They make the most sense for animals with longer life spans such as horses and birds;
- There is usually no need to leave an excessive amount of money;
- Name a successor beneficiary for funds left after your pet dies, preferably not the caregiver;
- Ensure the willingness of the trustee and caregiver to serve in those roles;
- Name successors for the trustee and caregiver;
- Do not make the trustee and caregiver the same person; and
- Provide detailed instructions of your wishes for the care of your pet.
This article is a service of Bridge Law Firm. We are an award-winning law firm that specializes in business and estate planning for clients like you. The goal for every family is to stay educated on all topics like this, avoid probate, avoid estate taxes, and build a legacy for you and your loved ones. What sets our firm apart is that we build lasting, lifelong relationships with our clients. They rely on us to keep them updated, provide sound legal counsel, and be there for them immediately if any problems should ever arise. The best part is we don’t charge hourly fees to our families, so you never have to worry about speaking to us. If you’re ready to keep your family out of Court, contact us today to schedule an initial consultation or visit our website at www.bridgelawllp.com.