By Matthew A. Ferri, Esq. Consider estate planning for your pets on April 11th, National Pet Day. The animals in our lives are often considered to be part of our families. They provide companionship and comfort. They have their own unique likes, dislikes and traits. And over the time we spend with them, we learn how to best take care of them.
A discussion that often comes up with clients, is who will take my dog/cat/animal when I am no longer able to?
We leave detailed instructions for pet sitters when we are gone for a short time, but what about if we are disabled or gone forever?
With proper pet planning you can ensure that your pet will continue to receive the same special care that you provide when you cannot. Even though a friend or family member may offer to care for a pet in the event of your disability or death, you may feel more secure having a legally enforceable instrument.
The law allows you to create a trust for your pet. A Pet Trust must be for a domestic or pet animal and terminates when the pet is no longer living or 21 years after the trust’s creation. You can name a caregiver in your trust. This should be someone who will feel comfortable around the pet and is willing to undertake the responsibilities. Also, the Pet Trust can provide guidance by way of special instructions for the care of your pet. Instructions can include: food and diet instructions, grooming, vet care, socialization, activities, and compensation for a caregiver and the trustee. You may also provide instructions on final arrangements for your beloved animals. This way the caretaker knows what you would have done in that situation and can act accordingly.
None of the pet trust’s principal and income can be used for anything other than for the benefit of the covered animal(s) unless otherwise stated in the trust and when pet dies the remaining funds or property is transferred according to the terms of the trust to any residuary beneficiaries.
Planning before disability or death for the care of your pets can provide you peace of mind. You’ll know they will be well taken care of in the manner you want. To discuss adding your pets to your estate plan, or other planning needs, we offer complimentary initial consultations. We can be reached at (248) 409-0256.