Woof Woof! Caring for Your Pet using a Pet Trust
Pet Trusts: Taking Care of Furry, Finned and Feline Family Members
Caring for Pets
When New York financier Muriel Siebert passed away in August of 2013, she provided for a good friend in her Will—a long-haired Chihuahua named Monster Girl. Do you have a plan to care for family pets when you pass on?
According to the American Pets Products Association, more than 56 million American households own a dog and more than 45 million own a cat. A Los Angeles non-profit organization, 2nd Chance for Pets, estimates approximately 500,000 pets are euthanized in the United States each year after their owners become disabled or pass away.
Caring for a pet after the death of an owner is an increasingly common wish among families and pet owners in New Jersey and across the country. Dogs, cats and other pets offer unconditional friendship, a quality some people find only in their animal companion. Legally providing for your pet ensures they are cared for if something should happen to you.
Setting up a Pet Trust
Because animals are recognized as property, bequeathing money directly to your pet is difficult. Under New Jersey law, you can create a trust through your estate plan to provide for one or more pets. Here are some general points about setting up a pet trust for your animal companion:
• Appoint a trustee: When you establish a trust for your pet, think about whom to appoint to administer the trust. Also consider a successor trustee if your original appointee is unable to carry out the task.
• A caretaker: Appoint a caretaker for your pet. This could also be the trustee. The caretaker of your pet should be someone you trust to care for your family pet as you would.
• Details: When setting up a trust to care for your family pet, be sure to set out the details of care. You can name the veterinarian, designate how often your pet should go to the vet, identify food and your end of life wishes for your pet.
• Term and remainder: In New Jersey, you can fund a pet trust until your pet passes away or until the end of 21 years. Your trust document should designate where money remaining in the trust should go when your pet no longer needs it.
Talk to your estate planning attorney about the type of trust you should use to care for your pet. You can create a trust through your Will, or through a trust that springs into action should you become disabled during your lifetime.
Effective estate planning protects the long-term security of your loved ones. Make sure all your family members are taken care of—including your beloved pet. When you need knowledgeable answers about pet trusts or other estate planning questions—speak with an experienced law firm in Hunterdon County or Union County, New Jersey.