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Five Things You Need To Think About When Creating A Pet Trust

Pets are great companions to us, enriching our lives when we are young and old. And most of us return the favor by providing for a comfortable life for our pets. But too often, we fail to plan for the care of our pets when we die, and thousands of pets end up in shelters with nobody to care for them.

Now that all 50 states recognize the validity of pet trusts, it’s easier than ever to ensure that your pet receives the same care and attention that you give them when you’re no longer able to. Here are 5 helpful tips to get you started on finding the peace of mind that your pet will enjoy the same quality of life after you’re gone.

  1. Pick the right guardian (and then pick another). Choosing an appropriate caretaker for your pet is probably the most important decision you will make. It may also be the most difficult. Just because a friend may love to play with your dog or cat does not mean that they would be willing to provide the kind of care your pet will need. Make sure that the caretaker you choose fully understands the responsibility they will be accepting. Once you’ve found the right person, find another. Understand also that circumstances may change and your primary caretaker may be unable to honor that commitment when called upon. Having another person in place will give you the peace of mind that your pet will be well cared for when you’re gone.
  2. Make a detailed care plan. You can’t just assume that your proposed caretaker will know exactly how you want your pet to be cared for when you’re gone. A detailed care plan will eliminate the guesswork and ensure that your caretaker understands the responsibility that they will be accepting. Be sure to include your preferred veterinarian, any special diet your pet requires, and any other special treats you will want your pet to have. Make sure you detail your wishes on treatment if your pet becomes ill and how you want your pet’s remains to be dealt with when your pet dies.
  3. Leave enough money to the trust. It’s your responsibility to provide the funds for your caretaker to provide for your pet. Don’t assume that your caretaker will accept financial responsibility. Of course, we can’t predict how long our pets will live, so there is some guesswork in determining how much you will need to leave. Consider your current annual pet costs and make sure to leave some extra for unintended needs. It’s best to have some extra funds when your pet dies, which you can direct to your other beneficiaries or to a charity of your choice.
  4. Understand the unintended consequences. Nobody can predict how the future will unfold. So, when it comes to estate planning in general, and pet trusts in particular, there can often be unforeseen events that undermine even the best-designed plans. That’s where it helps to work with an experienced estate planning attorney. An experienced attorney can help to identify those pitfalls and suggest options to avoid an unintended result.

Erach Screwvala
Screwvala & Fay LLC

Categories: Pet Estate Planning