Caring For Your Pet With An Estate Plan Just For Them

Beloved pets deserve the best care possible, no matter what happens to their owner. With that in mind, those with pets can now include them in their estate plans using a pet trust. To find out more about pet trusts, read on.

Trusts in General

The word trust should not worry pet owners. This way of planning for what happens to your property, such as your pet, after you pass away is far easier to deal with than a last will and testament. Trusts don't need to be probated and are far more flexible than a will. They are private and the provisions can be more customizable than a will. All types of trusts must appoint a trustee, and a pet trust is no exception.

What Makes a Pet Trust?

A trust must hold not only instructions for what to do with property, but it must also be funded. In the case of a pet trust, that means the instructions for the pet's care must be accompanied by the money to make it happen. The creator of the trust (the grantor) can appoint a caregiver for the pet and fund the trust with enough money to cover the pet's expenses.

Pet trusts can be very detailed depending on what the grantor has in mind. For example, the trust instructions could include how often the pet is to be fed, walked, and taken to the vet for check-ups.

What Else to Know About Pet Trusts

Below are some important considerations when it comes to creating a pet trust:

  • Many grantors select not only a primary caregiver but a backup carer in case a problem occurs with the primary caregiver. In some cases, the caregiver becomes ill or passes away.
  • Decide how much money you need to leave to the caregiver to provide for your pet's care. Consider the pet's life expectancy and how much it costs to feed them for that many years. Add in veterinary visits, medication, and treatment for serious illnesses.
  • Most trusts terminate with the death of the pet though this can vary by state. You might want to include some instructions for what happens to the money in the fund if there is any left when the pet dies. A pet charity might be a good option, or you could award it to the caregiver.
  • Don't consider appointing a caregiver for your pet without consulting with them beforehand. This is not the time to surprise someone with the task.

Speak to an estate lawyer about creating a pet trust for your own four-legged friends.