Providing for Your Pets
In the Event of Your Death or Hospitalization

For many people, particularly the elderly, a pet is an important and comforting part of life, and the care and well-being of the pet is a primary concern.

 

Why is it important to include my pets in my estate planning?

You probably think of your pets as a part of your family.  However, legally pets are considered personal property like your car or jewelry.

If your are ill, injured or otherwise unable to care for your pets and have not planned ahead, your pets will be at the mercy or whoever is chosen to manage your property and financial affairs and that may not be in the best interests of your pets.  Upon your death, your pets will pass to your heirs unless you have specifically provided for them.

Therefore, unless you make specific provisions, your pets could end up like thousands do each year, in a shelter, with a caregiver who does not care, or homeless.

When you prepare for your future, prepare for theirs as well.

 

Traditional Pet Trust

What are the benefits of establishing a Trust for my pets?

  • The ability to control your pets’ care; during a prolonged illness or after your death, you determine the standard of care.
  • Additional pets may be easily included without modifying the Trust document.
  • A Trust will go into effect immediately, not just upon your death.
  • A Trust may be modified or terminated by you at any time prior to your death.

How does a Trust work?

  • A Trustee is named to manage and distribute the funds and oversee the pets’ care.
  • A Caregiver is named to provide a home and care for your pets.
  • The Trustee ensures that the “specific care instructions” you provide are followed so that your pets are cared for in the manner that you desired.

From where does the Trust money come?

Even if you do not currently have a substantial amount of money to put into a Trust, there are several ways in which funds may be provided for your Trust, such as:

  • Direct transfer of money or property
  • Life Insurance – the Trust may be the beneficiary of the entire policy or a portion of an existing policy
  • Pour over Will provisions – funds or property from your estate may be left to the Trust
  • Annuities, retirement or similar accounts

A Traditional Pet Trust is very flexible, gives you significant control over your pets’ future and may be modified to suit many different needs.

 

Conditional Gift to a Caregiver

Instead of a Trust, you may make a gift of funds and your pets to a specific caregiver in your will with the understanding that those funds be used for the care of your pets.  Unlike a Traditional Pet Trust, this is not binding, but imposes only a moral obligation on the caregiver.