The American culture is one in which animals are considered pets instead of livestock. As such, the majority of American households consider an animal to be part of the family. Collectively, Americans own almost 80 million dogs and cats, with over 60 percent of all households owning a pet of some type. Most animal owners understand that pet ownership involves a tremendous amount of responsibility for the pet. To make sure that all pet owners keep that in mind, “Responsible Pet Owner’s Month” is celebrated every year in the U.S. during the month of February. Being a responsible pet owner, however, isn’t limited to thinking of your pet’s every day needs. As a responsible pet owner you should also consider what would happen to your pet if something happened to you.
Sadly, very year half a million dogs and cats end up in shelters across the country because their owner died or became incapacitated and provisions were not made for the animal – or the pet was simply forgotten. If you don’t want this to happen to your family pet it is imperative that you include your pet in your comprehensive estate plan just as you include your children and other loved ones.
Although there are several ways in which you can plan for your pet’s care should something happen to you, a pet trust is the most comprehensive and provides the most security for your pet. Like all trusts, a pet trust allows you to set aside assets that can be used for the benefit of a third party, in this case your pet. You will then appoint a Trustee to manage the trust assets and administer the trust terms. The Trustee can be the same person who will have the day to day care of your pet but may also be a neutral third party. The trust terms can then be used to ensure that your pet is cared for in the way you care for your pet. Your trust terms can include everything from what veterinarian your pet must treat with to what type of food must be purchased for your pet. Best of all, your pet trust can cover both your incapacity and your death, thereby ensuring that no matter what happens to you down the road your pet will always be well cared for just as he/she is now by you.
If you have additional questions or concerns about pet planning or creating a pet trust, contact the experienced Texas estate planning attorneys at The Mendel Law Firm, L.P. by calling 281-759-3213 to schedule your appointment today.