Solution Law Firm Blog

How to Plan a “Pet Trust” to Protect Your Pet After Your Death

by | Mar 1, 2021

In our previous blog post, we covered what to take into consideration when planning for your pet’s care in the event of your incapacitation or death. In this article, we will go over the steps to create a pet trust to provide for your animals when you cannot be there. 

A will is not enough

While you may think that a including a letter with your will is sufficient to provide the instructions for the care of your pet, that is not entirely accurate. Here is a reminder – those directions will not take effect until your estate has been administered. 

What can happen to your pet in the mean time? If there isn’t a provision for immediate care, those directions act more as an informal agreement, one that is not enforceable.

Trusts lead to peace of mind

By putting money in a trust for your animals, you are providing the funds necessary for your caretaker to provide for your pets in the exact way you want them to. A trust is a legal arrangement that instructs how your pets will be cared for in the event that you pass before they do. 

Currently, all 50 states plus the District of Columbia have pet trust laws. Most states allow for their creation for the care of animals alive during your lifetime. Some even allow for you to establish a trust for animals in gestation – for example if your dog has a litter of puppies coming. Many states enforce the trust throughout the lifetime of the pet, while others only specify a fixed number of years. 

Dog paw and hand shaking

Name a trustee

While designating a caregiver (or two!) is important, you should also designate a trustee that will be responsible for administering the funds to care for your pet. While your caretaker may have the best intentions, giving the funds in a lump sum is not always the best way to make sure your pet is cared for in the long term. And don’t forget – you will want to set aside funds to pay the trustee for his/her work in managing the trust. 

Specifically identify your pet in the trust

Avoid a potential scam to get the trust money that is meant for your pet. Provide detailed descriptions, microchip numbers, photographs, even DNA samples to be sure that it is your pet(s) that receives the funds for their care. Make sure your pet is easily identifiable by your designated trustee.

Provide REALLY detailed information about your pet’s care

It was previously mentioned how important a plan is for your pet’s care. Now the emphasis is on every eventuality of your pet’s care. Try to set aside money for major vet bills, end-of-life care, and even cremation or burial. You can even provide a plan for what to do with the remaining trust funds when your pet passes. 

Think creatively about funding

You have other assets to draw from in the event you don’t have enough cash on hand to fund the trust. Life insurance policies, savings accounts, annuity contracts, or money gained from the sale of physical assets can all be utilized to fund your pet’s trust.  

Need help brainstorming possible pet care issues? Questions on how to fund your pet trust? The Solution Law Firm, P.A. Can help you in planning and building your trust for your fur babies. 

This article is a service of The Solution Law Firm, P.A. We don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That’s why we offer a Family Planning Session, during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today to schedule a Family Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge.

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