What Is a Pet Trust?
Pet trusts are a trust set aside for the continued maintenance and care of your loved family pets after you die. Pets are considered to be full members of the family, and owners would never dream of them being relegated to a shelter if an owner passes away. Pet trust provisions are in force in most states, where there are laws to initiate enforceable trusts at the death of an owner. If you think about the money spent on a pet during the pet’s lifetime, pet expenses can include:
- Veterinarian care
- Boarding when owners go on vacation
- Pet vaccinations
- Pet toys
- Pet beds
- Pet food
- Pet fences
- Pet medicine
- Pet surgeries for diseases
- Pet health insurance
It is not that unusual to find that pet owners want to care for their pets, for the full life of the pet. Many pets in shelters today were rescued on the death of an owner. Most of these dogs are loving and loyal pets, with few issues of socialization, other than the owner is no longer there to care for them. In light of this discussion, a pet trust just makes sense to care for the pet comfortably for life.
The Mechanics of the Pet Trust
A pet trust is a formal legal document, that describes what money should be set aside for caring for the pet, and who should care for the pet, after the death of the owner. The language of the trust will assign a trustee to administer the funds either directly, or as the trustee determines to be appropriate to care for the pet. The pet trust can either direct an exact amount of funds to be taken out of the estate to care for the pet, or the pet trust can designate a percent of funds to be put aside from the estate to go for pet care. For example, the pet trust can state that only $10,000 or an amount not to exceed 20% of the estate should be designated and used by the trustee to care for the pet. If there is more than one pet, the specifics related to each pet, or in a group can also be detailed in the pet trust.
What To Do with Extra Funds from the Pet Trust
The pet trust is specifically meant to care for the upkeep of a pet, but if the pet dies, then there may be money left over from that pet trust. With both the pet and the owner deceased, then the extra money in the fund will need to be accounted for as well. The pet trust can state tat if there is extra money left over, then that money can be designated to specific beneficiaries. The trust can additionally state that the funds will be distributable, but only if there is a release from the beneficiaries to prevent any claim or challenge to the validity of the pet trust. This provision can have remainders verified that state, if the beneficiary does not accept the money or is not alive, then the money could be given to a pet themed charity or veterinarian hospital or clinic of the owner’s choice.
Appointing a Caretaker or New Pet Family to Care for the Pet
Another benefit of having a pet trust is that it can designate someone to take over the permanent care for a pet on the death of an owner. Giving the pet to a trusted friend, or listing a few other families who would love the pet the way the owner has loved the pet can provide great peace and comfort for a pet owner. This agreement will give the owner knowledge that the pet will be loved by the new pet family, who is picked out in advance and who will have approved being placed on the list of the next “forever” home for this treasured pet. If you are interested to hear more about pet trusts and how it will work in your estate planning needs, you should get in touch with a Texas estate planning attorney today.