It is common that pet owners perceive their pets…like family! You take them to the doctor, you have them bathed and groomed, you walk and exercise them, you have conversations with them and at times you confide them – better than with your human “family.” It’s important to understand though, that although you may treat them like we would another family member, North Carolina considers pets as property. This means that when you pass away, your pet is treated just like your bank account and property…it has to “go” to someone. Pets can’t actually be the beneficiaries or trusts themselves; but you can certainly designate caretakers, monthly allowances for pet care, and what to do with the trust when your pet passes. Americans have a special bond with their pets and this type of trust is becoming more of the “normal” in planning estates.
Turner Law Firm, PLLC is here to take care of your beloved pet if you are not here to take care of them in the same manner they are used to. A pet trust helps you get started with providing for your pet. Since they are considered property, it is important that you specifically dictate in either your last will and testament or your revocable living trust or better yet your pet trust, specifically what your wishes are regarding your pet or pets. If you don’t plan out fully who will take your pet you run the risk that no one is immediately ready upon your passing to care for them.
Below is a list to help you start thinking about how you would plan for your pet.
Use the Pet Trust document if
- You want to make sure your pets are cared for after you pass.
- You’d like to designate a pet caregiver.
- You want to set aside funds for pet care.
You need to designate where remaining funds will go after your pet passes.
Taking care of a pet is rewarding, but it can also be expensive. Having a pet trust in place can help you eliminate a lot of the costs of pet care for the person you’re designating as the caretaker. You want to make sure they have the same life that they had with you. A trust allows you to choose a caregiver who will carry out your wishes, designate funds to so that the caregiver has appropriate financial support, and allows you to specify where the remain funds should go after your pet passes away.
Everything is up to you, but you have to get it in writing. A pet trust helps take care of your loyal companions for the rest of their lives. Turner Law Firm, PLLC can assist in assuring your best friend will live the standard of life you desire.
What Should Be Included In A Pet Trust
- Type of pet (dog, cat, horse, fish, parrot, exotic animal, etc.)
- Pet’s name
- Pet’s date of birth
- Breed of Pet
- Temperament (good with children? Can you approach him/her when he/she eats?)
- Color and distinguishing markings;
- Pet’s behavioral habits
- Brand of food, feeding amounts, feeding times
- Daily routine schedule (walk times, play times, snack times, etc.)
- Visitors your pet is accustomed to visiting with
- Location of dog park permits
- Name, address, phone number of veterinarian
- Health insurance information
- Medications and medical history (heartworm, flea and tick, allergy medications; previous surgeries)
- Favorite toy
- Favorite play activities
- Where does your pet like to sleep
- Name, address and phone number of the temporary guardian
- Name, address and phone number of the permanent guardian
- Name, address and phone number of the successor permanent guardian
- Information regarding the funds where money is held for your pet
- Name, address and phone number of the primary trustee
- Name, address and phone number of the successor trustee
- How the assets left after the death of your pets are distributed
- Burial or cremation instructions
- Who cares for the burial site or keeps the urn of ashes once your beloved pet is deceased
Pet Trust Alternatives
If a pet trust isn’t right for your situation there are options for providing for your pet. Your will could provide for your pet through:
- Conditional bequests. You may be able to give money to a specific person, with the condition that the money is to be used for your pet’s care.
- Bequeathing (leaving) your pet to a specific person, along with money for pet care.
In preparing for your future do not forget your “other” family members!