07/12/2013

What is a Pet Trust?

There are so many people in this nation who consider their pets as devoted family members and consider it an absolute responsibility to ensure that their animals are cared for upon the owner's death or in the event that the owner becomes incapacitated. One way to achieve this peace of mind is to set up a pet trust.

The definition of a pet trust is one of a legally sanctioned arrangement that directs for the care and maintenance of one or more pets in the event of their owner’s disability or death.  The term “settlor” is used for the person who creates the trust whereas the “trustee” is the person who is entrusted with the fund during a person’s lifetime or at the time of death.  When the trust goes into effect, the trustee will make payments to a designated caregiver on a regular basis.  The trust can last until the demise of the animal. 

To start the process, it is strongly suggested to seek the advice of an estate planning attorney.  Directions of the trust should be very specific as to the type of food, the frequency of vet visits, exercise schedules, etc…

You will need to supply the following information to the attorney preparing your pet trust.

  • The trustee’s name and address.
  • The successor trustee’s name and address.
  • The selected caregiver’s name and address.
  • A successor caregiver’s name and address.
  • Adequately identify your pet(s) to avoid any possible fraud.
  • Discuss your pet’s quality of life and care essentials.
  • Regulate vet visits on a consistent basis.
  • Ensure that the money or assets available will cover all possible pet related expenses and for the administration of the trust itself.
  • Name a beneficiary that will receive funds not used by the trust.
  • State instructions for your pet’s burial or cremation.

With a little planning, you can ensure that your pet(s) are well taken care, in the event that you are not able to take care of them.