The American Pet Products Association recently found that about half of dog and cat owners include their pets in their will. This is a great start, but there are a few issues that can come up with a will. In order to properly provide for your pet, you may want to consider a testementary pet trust.
Why is a Pet Trust Better?
A will can specify who receives your pet, but can’t guarantee that that person will care for your pet. Also, a will only goes into effect at death and will not help your pet if you are incapacitated. A pet trust, now legal in all 50 states, are legal instruments that provide instructions and funding for the care of your pet after your death or in case of a prolonged illness.
What do I Need to Create a Pet Trust?
- To create a pet trust, you should identify at least 2 potential caretakers for your pet. A caretaker may be a family member, friend, or an organization. Make sure that they are willing and able to provide the care your pet requires.
- You should also consider a separate trustee. The trustee is the individual or organization responsible for securing, investing, managing and distributing the pet trust assets. The trustee may serve as the caretaker, but choosing two separate people can prevent misuse of funds. If your trustee is your caretaker you may want to appoint a trust director, who can ensure that the intent of your trust is followed.
- Include a detailed description, photographs, and microchip I.D. number in your pet trust. This information can prevent a caretaker from fraudulently adopting another pet to receive trust funds after your pet passes. Also, outline your pet’s nutritional needs, health problems, and veterinary information and provide directions for your pet’s burial or cremation.
- Finally, determine the amount needed to care for your pet based on your pet’s standard of living and life expectancy. Costs vary but, as a starting point, the APPA survey found that the average dog owner spends $1,549 annually on veterinary bills, food, boarding, medication, grooming, and toys. The average cat owner spends $961.
Wrapping up your Pet Trust
You should designate a beneficiary to receive any remaining funds after your pet’s death. Many choose not to name the caretaker as the beneficiary (to prevent the temptation to skimp on care). Instead, the caretaker can be allotted an allowance during the pet’s lifetime.
This kind of thoughtful planning is important if you want your wishes fulfilled regarding your pet. Promises are not enforceable by law. Your friends or family members may have the best of intentions, but allergies, conflicts with other pets, or pet exclusions in rental agreements may keep them from following through. If you want to make sure that your pet is provided for, give us a call today!