Animal owners have close bonds with their pets. Pet owners often wish to ensure their pet is cared for after the owner’s death, which is done by creating a Pet Trust as part of your estate plan.
Pet trusts are legal devices that allow you to appoint a caretaker to care for your pet after you pass away. The funds in the Pet Trust are used to care for your pet, and to compensate the trustee for his efforts. A Pet Trust will ensure that your pet receives the proper food, housing, veterinarian care, and kennel care after you’re gone.
How A Pet Trust Works
Trusts take effect when the owner dies. There are several issues to decide in every pet trust.
Who is the caretaker? Choosing a caretaker is always the most important decision you have to make. This is the person who will have custody of your pet and will responsible for day-to-day care. Don’t assume the person you want to name-even if it’s your spouse or best friend-is willing to take on this responsibility. Always ask. Name an alternate as well, in case your first choice can’t take the pet when the time comes.
How much money is needed? Do the best you can to estimate how much the caretaker will need to take care of your dog. The appropriate amount varies widely depending on the pet’s age and condition.
Caretaking instructions. Pet trusts need to be very detailed when it comes to instructions for the caregiver. It makes sense, given that animals can’t tell the caregiver what they need or like. Owners often specify everything from favorite food and toys to sleeping arrangements.
Someone to go to court and enforce the terms of the trust if necessary. This is the person who makes sure the trust money is being spent appropriately on the animal, and not for any other reason.
What should be done with any money that’s left over when the animal dies. If you leave more money than is necessary, where do you want the rest to go? It could go to family, a charity-it’s your choice.
What happens if you can’t take care of your pet before your death. One feature of a pet trust is that it can take effect before your death, if you were to become incapacitated and unable to care for your dog. The caregiver you named could immediately take custody and control of your pets if necessary.
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