When you bring pets into your home, you are making a commitment to care for them for life. While it can be tough to say goodbye to a beloved pet, have you considered the alternate scenario? It may be very possible that your pet will outlive you, especially if you are getting on in years, or if you have a pet that has a longer than average lifespan. A pet trust may be the perfect way to ensure your pet is cared for after you are gone. Read on to learn more about three reasons to consider a pet trust in your estate plan.
1. Choosing the Right Caregiver. When you set up a pet trust, you have the opportunity to name the right person to care for your pet. You know your pet best. Your adult child may feel it would be his or her responsibility to take your pet, but not have the right circumstances at home to do so, perhaps because of having very young children or already having pets of his or her own. Choosing a different friend or relative can ease the pressure on your adult child and gives you the chance to make that choice yourself, rather than having it be decided under stressful circumstances later on.
2. Financially Providing for Your Pet. When you create a pet trust, in most states you are permitted to instruct the trustee, the person in charge of handling the money in the trust, to make distributions to your pet’s caregiver on a monthly or annual basis, for either the remainder of your pet’s life or for 21 years, whichever is shorter. In some states, the cut-off is simply for the remainder of your pet’s life. This can be an important point if you have a less common type of pet, like a bird or lizard, who could live beyond 21 years after your death because their breed has a longer-than-average lifespan.
3. Keeping Your Pet Comfortable. Your pet, like many humans, may have special medical needs, or just personal preferences. You can put as many specific instructions as you wish into a pet trust. For example, you can state that the pet needs to see a certain veterinarian, for as long as that person is practicing, or that the pet needs to be seen two, three, or four times per year. You can also leave funds for a more expensive brand of food if your pet needs that brand. This can be important for many pet owners who want their companion to be comfortable after they are gone.
Are you interested in establishing a pet trust? Our office can guide a family through their estate planning options. Please contact our office today to schedule a meeting with attorney Alan Hougum.