Although the old saying is that “dog is man’s best friend”, many cat and other animal owners would disagree. Regardless of what type of pet you own, if you are an animal lover then you undoubtedly wish to provide for your pet in the event of your death. In some cases, simply discussing the matter with a family member or loved one will suffice; however, it is important to understand that the family member or loved one is under no legal obligation to fulfill your wishes with regard to your pet once you have passed away. For this reason, many people choose to create a pet trust to ensure that the pet is properly cared for after their death.
A pet trust works in much the same way as any other trust, except that the beneficiary is an animal instead of a person or entity. You, as the trustor, or grantor, of the trust must designate assets to fund the trust. The value of the assets you choose to place in the trust is up to you; however, you should carefully consider the cost of caring for your pet and your pet’s life expectancy when deciding the amount of money or assets to place in the trust.
The other important consideration when creating a pet trust is who you wish to be the trustee. The trustee is ultimately responsible for overseeing the trust and distributing the trust assets to the pet’s caregiver. While the trustee can be the same person who you choose to have the actual day to day care of the pet, it does not have to be the same person. You can, for example, appoint an attorney or bank to be the trustee while leaving the actual care of the pet to a family member or loved one. The trustee will then distribute the assets as directed in your trust for the care and maintenance of your pet for the life of the pet. If there are assets remaining upon the death of your pet, the terms of the trust will dictate who receives those assets.
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