If you love your pets, you may be heartbroken to learn how many animals end up in shelters or worse after their owners pass away. Sometimes, these owners have even left a plan in the form of a will or simply passing the animal along to someone they trusted. However, those plans do not always hold up in the long run.
All the ways you provide for your beloved dog, cat, horse or other animal have given your pet a sense of security and comfort. The sudden loss of you may be a traumatic event for your pet, so it is important to prepare a smooth transition into the arms of a loving caretaker.
Setting up a trust
Many pet parents make the mistake of leaving their furry, feathered or scaly friends to a relative or friend in a will. They may designate a generous amount of money from their estate to go to the chosen caretaker to cover the expenses of the pet. However, even if your relative or friend accepts the pet, there is no law that forces him or her to keep to pet or to use the money for the purpose you stipulate in your will. The better option may be to establish a pet trust.
With a trust, you have more control over your pet's future than with a will. The trust holds the funds you set aside for you pet's care, and a designated trustee manages the distribution and spending of the money. Your pet trust can be as simple or complex as you desire, but it is important to keep these things in mind as you plan:
- What is the average life expectancy of your pet?
- How much money will it cost for your pet's food, veterinary care, grooming, boarding (if it is a large animal) and incidental expenses?
- Who will care for your pet if the chosen caretaker should pass away or become unable to manage the animal?
- Are their pet sanctuaries nearby in case you are unable to find someone to commit to caring for your pet?
- How do you want your caretaker to handle the end of your pet's life?
- What should happen to any money left in the trust after your pet dies?
Once you have your trust in place, you can begin to fund it with the amount of money you have estimated for your companion. It is also important to revisit your trust from time to time, especially if your pet passes away or you add new animal friends to your family. An experienced California attorney can guide you through the steps for securing the future for your loyal companion.