Do You Need To Incorporate A Pet Trust Into Your Estate Plan?

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Reviewed by Alison Hickman, Esq.

Do you own a pet? If so, you may want to consider incorporating a pet trust into your estate plan.  Just as a traditional trust allows you to set up your assets so that they are managed by a selected trustee to benefit the individuals you designate as beneficiaries of the trust, a pet trust allows you to set aside assets to benefit your pet. A pet trust can help ensure that your pet is protected and cared for in the event of your death or incapacity.

In order to set up a pet trust, you should consult an experienced estate planning attorney. Not only can your attorney understand any applicable rules and regulations in creating the trust, but your attorney can also help you make a comprehensive plan and help ensure you are not forgetting any details. With your attorney’s advice, you can decide who you would like to be the caregiver for your pet, who you would like to be the trustee managing and distributing the assets in the pet trust, and what specific limitations or powers you would like to give to the trustee. For example, your trust can grant the trustee the discretion to pay for your pet’s care and any related expenses so that the expenses do not fall on the pet’s caregiver. Those expenses can include annual visits and vaccinations, but you may also want to include provisions about end of life care. Finally, your attorney can help you plan for what happens to the assets in the trust if there are assets remaining when your pet passes away.

Many of the attorneys in our organization offer estate planning services that include establishment of a pet trust. They are happy to help. Contact one of our members today for more information.