If you’re a pet owner, you probably consider your pet to be a part of your family. So, why not treat them as such by setting up a trust?
Now, you might be thinking that having a trust for your pet is a bit excessive, for your human loved ones will certainly take care of them on your behalf, right? You may want to think again. Your family and friends may not be willing or able to provide the level of care that your pet requires, and without a proper plan in place, your pet is at risk of ending up in a shelter – or worse.
Luckily, there is an estate planning tool that allows you to provide for the care of your pet in the event that you are unable to do so yourself. Just like an ordinary trust, a pet trust allows one to set up their assets to be held for the benefit of a beneficiary. The only difference is that the beneficiary in a pet trust happens to be a furry friend rather than a human being. There are three major advantages to setting up a pet trust:
#1 A pet trust provides peace of mind.
With a pet trust, you can ensure that your furbaby will be cared for according to your specifications. In the trust document, you can name a designated caretaker for your pet and leave detailed instructions for how their care and maintenance should be carried out. For example, you can specify the number of times your pet should be taken to the vet each year, the level of exercise they should receive, and even the brand of food they should be fed. You know your pet best, and a pet trust guarantees that they will continue to live the same happy life that you have always provided.
#2 You can leave money to be used for the benefit of your pet.
Although you cannot leave property, cash, or life insurance money directly to an animal, you can hold money in a trust to be used for the benefit of your pet, including their care and maintenance. When you create a pet trust, you name a designated caretaker for your pet, as well as a trustee to manage and administer the funds held in the trust according to your instructions. In other words, the trustee is responsible for making payments to the designated caretaker and ensuring that the funds are used only for pet care expenses, such as vet bills and food costs.
#3 A pet trust creates a legal obligation to care for your pet.
Because a pet trust is a legally sanctioned agreement, the parties to the agreement are required by law to adhere to its terms. In the trust document, the creator will name an individual to go to court and enforce the terms of the trust if necessary. If the court finds that the caretaker or trustee failed to follow the conditions laid out in the trust or used the trust money for something unrelated to the animal, the funds will go back to the pet owner’s estate and the guilty individuals can face serious legal consequences.
To recap, there are three major benefits of having a pet trust in place: (1) it provides pet owners with peace of mind that their beloved companion will always be cared for, (2) it gives pet owners the power to provide ongoing financial support for their pets, and (3) it establishes a legal duty to care for one’s four-legged family members. Remember, a pet trust does more than just ensure that your pet will be taken care of for the remainder of their life – it is an opportunity to return the same unconditional love that they have undoubtedly shown you.