Every year in the United States, over 500,000 pets are orphaned due to the unexpected death or incapacity of their owners. Approximately half of those 500,000 will be euthanized. This is tragic considering 87% of all pet owners consider their pets to be members of their family.
There is a new way to safeguard your pet. A “Pet Trust” provides you the ability to control every aspect of your pet’s future care – right down to the kind of food it will eat and the veterinary care it will receive. Any pet owner that is concerned about the future well-being of their pet needs to have a Pet Trust.
If you were unable to care for your pet, either because of incapacity or death, consider the following questions:
- Does your family or designated pet-caregiver know which vet to use?
- Do they know what food your pet eats, what medications it is taking, or what special needs your pet might have?
- What if your family could not provide care for your pet? What then? Would your beloved pet end up in a shelter, only to be euthanized?
A Pet Trust creates a checks and balance system for the care of your pet. A Pet Trust gives you the ability to designate a caregiver, and a trustee who will oversee the funds set aside for your pet. A Will does not give you these same options.
A Pet Trust is revocable, meaning you can change the terms of the trust at any time. Unlike a Will, a Pet Trust can be activated if you become incapacitated. Wills are only activated upon death; therefore, should you become disabled, there’s no legal document to protect your pet. Also, a Will cannot legally leave money to your pet. Animals are considered property, so they cannot inherit. That means any money designated in your Will for your pet would go to a designated caregiver. Once a caregiver receives the money, it can do whatever it wants with it. The courts lose jurisdiction over the caregiver once the money is distributed. With a Pet Trust, the courts can intervene if the trustee is misusing the funds.
Adding a Pet Trust to your estate plan is a perfect way to ensure all of your loved ones are protected – furry, feathered, or otherwise.
Contributed by Morris Hall PLLC Phoenix, Arrowhead and Scottsdale Estate Planning Attorney and Partner, David T. Eastman.
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This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney in your community who can assess the specifics of your situation.