There is no question that our pets often become a major part of our family unit. Because of this, pet planning has become a critical part of the estate planning process. When you think forward to the future, it is important to make sure that your pet is also considered during that process.
While we would all like to think that our family and friends would step up to take care of our pets after we die, you don’t want to leave anything to chance. If you happen to pass away before your pet, setting up a trust to take care of the financial aspects of caring for your little dog, cat or other pet is crucial. In fact, there has been litigation and conflict in families simply because of arguments over who will take care of the pets and what finances will be used.
A great example of how pet trusts can be set up was when the infamous Leona Helmsley left $12 million to her beloved dog, Trouble. The award was later reduced down to $2 million. However, Trouble was taken care of under the provisions of an estate planning trust so that there was no question as to how the dog would be cared for. While most people won’t have millions of dollars to leave to their pet, it makes sense to establish a pet trust that will be administered by a trusted family member or friend.
The unfortunate part of passing away and leaving a pet without the trust is that not everyone loves your pet like you do. Some people would simply take the pet to the animal shelter in the hopes that it would find another home. Many pets are euthanized each year because their owners have become incapacitated or have passed away without leaving a trust in place to take care of them. For this reason, it makes sense to do some pet planning with a qualified attorney who can help you set up a trust that will meet these needs.