23 Jan Are Pet Trusts The “Cat’s Meow”???
Do you desire to take care of “Kitty or Fido” in the event of your death or disability? For some, the answer is a pet trust so that there is proper care pursuant to the directions to a caregiver as in the trust. If a pet trust is established, the trustee helps the pet caregiver pay for expenses or pays the caregiver directly if they properly take care of “Kitty” or “Fido” pursuant to your directions as set forth in the trust.
Another option (which is simpler) is to leave a certain amount to the pet caregiver and trust the caregiver will do what you want. This may be less enforceable and there is less control over the pet’s care. However, it may be more practical if only a small amount of money is given to take care of the pet.
A pet trust often goes into detail as to what happens if the pet caregiver no longer acts in that capacity, who can be appointed, details as to care and the disposition of the pet after death of the pet. It can also indicate what to do if all funds for care have been exhausted.
A pet trust could be created in your will or you can fund a living trust and have a pet trust provision in it which provides for your pet’s care in the event of your disability or your death. The latter has the advantage of being effective immediately instead of the time period needed for probate (although a trust generally costs more than a will). A financial power of attorney can also have a provision for your agent to take care of your pets if you should become disabled. Powers of attorney terminate on death.
If you have a pet trust, consider medical expenses, life expectancy of the pet, boarding expenses if pet caregiver is ill or on vacation, special dietary requirements, etc. in determining the amount of funding. However, if you put too much funds in the trust, beneficiaries are more likely to contest.
As in the case of any fiduciary, you should name an alternate if the caregiver can no longer act and you should make sure he or she is willing to act and carry out your instructions when preparing your will or trust.
You should probably mention everything from grooming to medical care to compensation to daily routines and food diet. There also might be instructions how a trustee monitors the pet caregiver. You should also consider if your trustee can be trusted in monitoring the terms of the trust. If not, a trust protector could be appointed with the ability to remove a trustee. An alternate trustee should also be considered.
Finally, the trust should mention what happens on termination (where the balance goes upon the death of the pet).
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