Pets are family and just like any other family member need to be considered when developing an estate plan.A variety of legal options exist to protect your pet and ensure your intentions are followed. A pet trust if properly crafted can be one of the legal entities which will protect your pet when circumstances dictate. As always it is highly recommended to consult with an attorney or estate planning attorney when drafting or modifying an estate plan.
Definition Of A Pet Trust
A pet trust is a legal document which provides for the care of your pet should you become disabled or upon your death. A pet trust can be structured to be effective during your lifetime in case of a temporary disabling event or after your death. Typically the trust is funded to provide the necessary monies for the care of your pet through the designated caretaker. The length of the trust varies in accordance with state law.
State Laws Vary To Establish Pet Trust
The first step is to check the law for your state to determine if a Trust for your pet is an option. Minnesota is currently the only state which prohibits pet trusts; however, laws vary per state. The ASPCA provide a pet state law chart to help owners begin researching the laws in their state.
Experts advise consulting an attorney, one who is experienced in trusts, estate planning and pet trusts, to draft a pet trust. Laws vary widely per state and some states do not acknowledge a pet trust or leave adhering to a pet trust optional. The ASCPA has provided a current list to check the pet trust laws per state.
Pet trusts are commonly thought of for cats and dogs; however any pet can qualify for a trust. The lifespan of a pet needs to be considered in conjunction with the state laws. Tortoises, birds, horses for example have a much longer lifespan than cats and dogs and this needs to be taken into consideration when creating the trust.
Funding The Pet Trust
Owners need to consider all care concerns for the pet in order for the trust to be fully funded.
- Medical condition of pet
- Food, food preferences
- Veterinary costs
- End of Life decisions and burial
A pet trust can be a valuable tool for any pet owner as it can be crafted specifically for your pet to dictate your intent should you be unable to do so. It is not the only option available, but it is one to carefully consider when estate planning for your family and your furry family member.
Additional Pet Articles
Pet Trust Primer by ASCPA