Is it Possible to Establish a Trust for My Pets?

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Setting Up a Trust for My Pets

Pet owners around the world are acknowledging the benefits of making proper arrangements and plans for a pet or pets trust fund. There is a small likelihood that someone else will treat your pet in the same manner you would, without proper instructions. Therefore, it is highly important that you leave adequate funding and directions for the individual that will be responsible for caring for your beloved furry friend. Learn more about if you can set up a trust for your pets.

Laws on the subject of pet trusts vary from state to state. Since animals are not allowed to be beneficiaries of a trust, various legislative devices have been employed in the past. Some states authorized the creation of “honorary trusts” which could be used to provide for the care of a pet, but were not enforceable by a court. The Uniform Probate Code recognized “pet trusts” in 1990, and the Uniform Trust Code added a pet trust provision in 2000.

However, the Uniform Codes are only recommendations, and each state chooses whether or not to adopt any of their provisions. As of the end of 2014, 46 states and the District of Columbia have adopted some type of provision which allows creation of a pet trust, some based on the Uniform Probate Code provisions, some based on the Uniform Trust Code provisions, and some on neither, including some remaining “honorary trust” provisions.

The law has traditionally regarded pets as “property” and thus not possessing any rights. In the past, individuals had to do such things as leaving money to a person with instructions to care for their animals, and hope that their wishes would be carried out, since there was no legal way to enforce such a provision. However, a growing recognition of the importance of companion animals to people has led to several advancements in legislative establishment of means to protect animals left behind.

How to Set Up a Trust for Your Pets

Here are some steps that will help guide you through the process of establishing trusts for your pets:

  1. Select a beneficiary. Recognize that the beneficiary you select will be deemed the main caregiver of your pet. Most pet owners will select a family member or a close friend. Choose someone already involved with your pet’s lifestyle and environment. Your pet will be more likely to have a connection with a familiarized individual. It is also very wise to select a successor beneficiary that would act in place if circumstances do not allow for the initial beneficiary to act.
  2. Name a trustee. This individual will be in charge of your pet’s financial assets. The trustee delegates the duties to maintain proper funding and control expenses. We advise you to select your trustee based on detailed personal judgment and trust.
  3. Eloquently describe the needs of your pet. Describe every detail possible when setting up your pet trust to ensure that their special needs are met. Most pet owners disclose when to schedule veterinary visits, specific walking hours, a certain pet food brand to purchase, or even a favorite toy.
  4. Provide medical information
  5. Organize your pet’s medical records. They should be easily accessible to your pet’s caregiver in case of an emergency.
  6. Set aside adequate funding & prepare detailed funding distribution
  7. Take note of approximately how much you spend on your pet in one year. Factor in possible costs of emergency medical bills or expenses that your new pet caregiver might run into. This estimation will help you prepare a detailed funding plan to to cover your pet’s care.