If you are a pet owner, your estate plan can cover your furry friends to ensure they are properly cared for if they outlive you in the form of pet trusts. A pet trust follows the same concept as a general trust in that you are setting aside funds to care for your pet in the event of your death. Although you can always will your beloved pet to someone in a valid will, it does not ensure that they will be taken care of after you are gone, whereas pet trusts will do just that. You can provide specific instructions regarding veterinary care, feeding, housing, etc. Feel free to get as specific or as general as you like when it comes to your pet. 

There are a few stipulations and things you should consider when setting up a pet trust to ensure your wishes are fulfilled and there are no loopholes that could be abused.

1.Your Pet’s New Caregiver

The fact that you are considering a pet trust means you are likely care very much for you pet and their well being after you are no longer able to care for them is very important to you. It’s not uncommon for pets to end up in shelters after their owner passes away because family and friends cannot take on the financial responsibility of the pet. The person you decide to leave your pet with is the number one determining factor in their quality of life after you. Who can you trust to take care of your pet as if it were their own and to honestly fulfill your wishes for them? It is also wise to choose a successor in the event your chosen caregiver does not outlive your pet.

2. Your Pet’s Life expectancy 

When setting up pet trusts, you should consider how long your pet is expected to live. You should also consider any health issues that your breed of dog is prone to so you can have a realistic idea of how long and how much care your pet will need as he/she ages. This will factor into the amount you expect the new caregiver will need for pet related expenses and provide the quality of life you desire for your pet. Latiolais Law Firm would recommend that you further consult with your veterinarian for a complete look at your pet’s life care plan. 

3. What Happens when your pet dies?

Do you want your pet cremated? Or buried in a certain spot? Plan for this along with where you would like any excess funds in the trust to go once, if they are no longer needed. Whether you want to give the balance to the caregiver, or split with other beneficiaries, or donate it to a charity, this should be clearly stated within the trust.

You don’t want to trust do-it-yourself online options to set up your own pet trust documents; this is a nuanced area of law that varies from state to state so we advise pet owners looking to set up a pet trust to consult an attorney who is familiar with their state’s animal legislation. Your Estate Attorney can include anything you deem relevant as well as advise you on things you should include that you may not have thought of. If you are unsure where to start, contact Emily Latiolais, your local Estate Lawyer today.