Making Sure Your Pets are Taken Care of After You Die

Pet Trust NJ
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Making Sure Your Pets are Taken Care of After You Die

Many people consider pets to be a part of the family. Whether you have a dog, cat, bird or other domesticated animal living in your home, chances are you’ll want what’s best for your pet if something should happen to you. Unfortunately, it is common even for those who create detailed estate plans to forget all about their pets.

Even more unfortunate is that every year, many dogs, cats and other pets are euthanized after their owners pass away. With proper planning, however, you can ensure that your animal companion receives proper care for the rest of his or her life after you are gone. In fact, the state of New Jersey has its own statute regarding the after-death care of pets.

Consider the following provisions under N.J.S.A. 3B:11-38:

  • A trust for the care of a domesticated animal is valid. The intended use of the principal or income may be enforced by a person designated for that purpose in the trust instrument, a person appointed by the court, or a trustee. The trust shall terminate when no living animal is covered by the trust, or at the end of 21 years, whichever occurs earlier.
  • Except as expressly provided otherwise in the trust instrument, no portion of the trust’s principal or income may be converted to the use of the trustee or to any use other than for the benefit of the animal designated in the trust.
  • Upon termination of the trust, the trustee shall transfer the unexpended trust property as directed in the trust instrument. If no directions for such transfer exist, the property shall pass to the estate of the creator of the trust.
  • The court may reduce the amount of the property transferred if it determines that the amount substantially exceeds the amount required for the intended use. The amount of any reduction shall be transferred as directed in the trust instrument, or if no such directions are contained in the trust instrument, to the estate of the creator of the trust.
  • If no trustee is designated or if no designated trustee is willing or able to serve, a court shall appoint a trustee and may make such other orders and determinations as are advisable to carry out the intent of the creator of the trust and the purpose of this act.

One of the most common reasons people fail to create an estate plan is procrastination. However, without a sound plan in place, what will happen to your loved ones, including your pets, if something terrible should happen? If you would like to set up a trust for your pet or are interested in learning more about estate planning in Hunterdon, Union County or elsewhere in New Jersey, call Alec Borenstein, Esq., at 908-236-6457 or email to set up free consultation.

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