We love our pets, but many of us are still uncomfortable with confronting end of life issues. When accidents occur and people lack essential estate planning tools, it is very common for pets to being end up being sent to shelters or rescue centers.
To avoid this unpleasant idea and to make sure that a pet is cared for following a person’s death or incapacity, some people establish a “pet trust”. Being a relatively uncommon type of estate planning tool, however, people often have questions about just what these trusts include.
As a result, this article discusses six important things that you should know about pet trusts.
# 1 – What a Pet Trust Is
A pet trust is a type of legal entity through which a person makes sure that a pet receives care following the individual’s death or incapacity.
The advantage of pet trusts is to make sure that a beloved dog, cat, or any other animal receives care and attention following the owner’s death or incapacity.
# 2 – How Pet Trusts Are Created
Pet trusts are created by giving a pet and an adequate amount of assets to someone you trust who will assume the duty of making arrangements for the care of the animal.
Besides naming a trustee, a pet trust will appoint a caretaker who will care of an animal and use assets to pay for the animal’s care. The person who receives the assets and provides the care can (but is not required to be) the same person.
These trusts are either created while the pet’s owner is still alive or when the pet’s owner dies.
# 3 – The Value of the Assets Placed in a Trust
It is important to consider a number of factors when deciding the value of the assets transferred to a pet trust should be.
Some of the factors that should be taken into consideration include the kind of animal, the animal’s life expectancy, and the standard of care that the animal needs.
Despite the numerous costs that can arise, it is also important to avoid transferring an unreasonably large amount of assets to a pet trust because this can increase the chances that disputes will arise.
# 4 – What Happens to Remaining Assets when a Pet Dies
In many cases, a person who creates a pet trust will name a “remainder beneficiary” who will receive any remaining assets after a pet dies. This is often a person that is not the caretaker of the animal. Some people decide to have remaining assets pass to a charity that helps care for the same type of animal.
#5 – What Happens if the Trust Runs Out of Money
If there are no assets left in the trust, a caretaker will no longer be able to pay for costs associated with caring for a pet.
In some cases, however, a caretaker will continue to look after the animal with their own funds. If a caretaker is not able to do this, it often helps to appoint an alternate person or group that can look after the animal.
Speak with an Experienced Estate Planning Lawyer
Pet trusts are just one of the many complex areas of estate planning law where an attorney can help.
The attorneys at Ettinger Estate Planning people have helped people navigate a number of complex estate planning issues. Contact our law office today to schedule an initial free consultation.