For pet parents, their furry loved ones have nuzzled their way into their hearts – creating an abundance of happy and fond memories. Whether you have a dog, cat, or other cuddly pet, providing optimal care and love for your animal is of the utmost importance. 

Although it’s more common for a pet to pass away before their human, there are many instances where an owner passes before their four-legged companion. In these cases, pet parents want to implement a solution that ensures their tail-wagging, sandpaper-kissing pal is properly cared for. 

While many people opt to include pets in their will, this type of documentation is only applicable to those who have passed on. In other words, what would happen if you were incapacitated and unable to care for your pet? 

This is where a pet trust comes in handy. Legal in all 50 states, a pet trust provides specific instructions detailing how to care for a pet once an individual is no longer able to. Additionally, it provides monetary assistance to whomever you choose to designate as the trustee

How to Establish a Pet Trust In Georgia

From state to state, guidelines will vary. For those who reside in Georgia, here’s a look at the five steps you need to take in order to set up your pet trust. 

  1. Pick Someone to Take Care of Your Pet

As you begin navigating the process of setting up a Georgia pet trust, the first task you want to tackle is deciding who will take care of your animal should the need arise. Before putting anything in writing, it’s pivotal to invest time in having a conversation with the individual you have chosen. 

Why? To ensure they’re up for the task and to set clear expectations regarding what that guardianship would entail. This includes reviewing financial obligations, special needs, and any other elements that come with the responsibility of caring for your pet. It’s always smart to have a secondary trustee in mind in case your first choice is unable or unwilling to assume the role. 

  1. Include Proper Identification

In order to avoid fraud, include proper identification in your trust. This includes providing multiple pictures of your pet, medical records, adoption papers (if applicable), and information regarding your pet’s microchip. 

  1. Outline Specific Instructions

Every pet is unique – some possess certain dietary needs while others have a structured exercise routine they must adhere to for health-related purposes. Should you pass or become unable to care for your furry friend, they will be placed in the custody of your trustee. Should these circumstances arise, it’s likely that your pet will be a little anxious or scared in its new environment. 

To ensure your pet makes a seamless transition to its new home, it’s essential to leave detailed instructions for your trustee to follow. Is there a specific medication your pooch takes? Does your cat need to eat a certain brand of food? Who is your pet’s veterinarian and what’s their medical history? Getting as granular as possible with the information you provide your trustee will ensure your pet receives optimal care moving forward.

  1. Think of a Realistic Budget

How much does it cost to take care of your pet? If they’re on a particular medication, what’s the monthly or yearly cost to obtain the prescription? From grooming sessions to the cost of their food and litter, take time to assess and record all the financial factors that go into caring for your paw-fect friend. It’s crucial to set a realistic budget. If you set aside too much money, you run the risk of having it contested by other heirs to your estate.

  1. What Happens When Your Pet Passes?

There are two things to keep in mind should your pet pass away while in the care of your trustee. First, you must name a beneficiary to receive the remainder of the available funds. Second, you’ll need to decide how your trustee should handle the passing of your pet – i.e. would you prefer to have him/her buried or cremated?

For more information regarding the process of setting up a pet trust, contact Smith Barid today. With a wide breadth of expertise in the field, we are able to handle all your estate planning needs.