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Pet Trusts - What will happen to your pet if you pass away?

Posted by Kelly Jansens on

Written by Verity Law Associate Attorney, Lisa A. Roelands 

Have you ever considered what will happen to your pet if you were to pass away?

Your pet will already be under a considerable amount of stress since their companion is no longer living, and without a plan in place your pet might end up in a shelter, on the streets, or worse. Thankfully, there are legal documents that you can put in place in order to provide for your pet after you are gone.

You may have provided for your pet in a will, but unfortunately this is not an effective mechanism to ensure your pet is cared for. A will does not go into effect right away and it can take time for your will to be found and administered. In addition, pets are considered to be property, and thus, money cannot be left directly to a pet through your will. You may be wondering, if you cannot leave money to your pet through your will, how can you make sure your pet is provided for after your death?

The best way to ensure your pet is cared for is to set up a pet trust. A pet trust allows you to allocate money for the specific purpose of providing for your pet’s maintenance and care. A pet trust also allows you to provide specific instructions on how to take care of your pet. These instructions can include everything from a feeding schedule to listing your pet’s favorite toys.

When establishing a pet trust, there are some important considerations to think about. Perhaps the most important consideration is who will be appointed as the caretaker of your pet. You will want to choose someone who is going to provide for and love the pet like you do. The next important issue to consider is who you will appoint as the trustee to distribute the funds to provide for the animals care. It is wise to have a separate caregiver and trustee to provide checks and balances.

Another important consideration is how you are going to fund the trust. The trust should be funded in a very mindful way. At first glance, it may seem like a good idea to provide incentives for keeping the pet alive for a long period of time, but the caretaker may keep the pet in a state of suffering in order to capitalize on the incentive for as long as possible. Additionally, it is unwise to leave the remainder of the trust funds to the caretaker. While you may think this would be a nice gift after caring for your loving pet after your passing, you may be inadvertently encouraging your caretaker to skimp on the level of care and comfort your pet is provided with.

The items listed above are just a few of the important considerations to keep in mind when planning for your pet. To ensure that your beloved pet is cared for after your death, contact Verity Law. We will walk you through the various considerations you should be aware of and ensure that you have a plan customized for your pet and its specific needs.

Contact Lisa A. Roelands at lar@verity-law.com or 616-258-7244


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