A growing number of people who seek estate planning services also ask for advice on how to provide for the care of their pet in the event of their death or incapacity. This is a logical leap considering how many people now view their pet as a member of the family. Though an animal cannot inherit money, property, or an estate, there are now legally-enforceable documents that allow an individual to provide for their pet upon their death or incapacity.
Many are of the belief that a bequest in a Last Will and Testament is adequate to provide for their pet in the future. However, it is important to understand that a bequest in your Last Will and Testament is only effective upon your passing and makes no provision for your pet during your lifetime. This means if you become incapacitated during your lifetime, there is no enforceable document governing the care of your animal. Further, wills are generally used only for the disbursement of property upon your death, not for enforcing the demands contained within. Additionally, admitting a will to probate can be a time-consuming process and thus, will not provide for your pet immediately upon your passing.
As detailed above, there are several issues that can arise when an individual provides for a pet through a Last Will and Testament. Those who wish to provide a more comprehensive estate plan regarding the care of their pet, during their lifetime and at death, may be better served though creation of a pet trust. While pet trusts have not been recognized in all 50 states, Florida allows pet trusts. Including a pet trust in your estate plan is beneficial for the following reasons:
- Pet trusts are valid during your life and at your death;
- Pet trusts allow you to establish how to control the disbursement of funds for your pet’s benefit;
- Provisions can be made in the event of your incapacity;
- You can ensure that the pet will receive care in accordance with your wishes;
- You can establish a reasonable fee for your pet’s caregiver;
- Pet trusts can provide for an alternate caregiver in the event the primary caregiver is unable or unwilling to act;
- There is a trustee who is monitoring the caregiver’s actions to ensure your pet is receiving the proper level of care;
You can set forth your desired wishes regarding end-of-life arrangements for your pet;
- At your pet’s death, the remaining assets in the pet trust will pass to your choice of beneficiary, such as an animal shelter in Tampa, St. Petersburg, or Clearwater; and
- You can establish a care plan for your pet.
For more information about setting up a pet trust in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, and the Tampa Bay area, call Baskin Fleece at (727) 572-4545.
This blog/video is designed for general information only. The information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship.