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What Is a Pet Trust When Compared to a Family Trust?

A pet trust is a special kind of trust that is either a separate trust or a provision in an existing will or trust. The pet owner creates this trust for the benefit of his beloved family pets.

Pets are very important to people. Many people treat their pets like members of the family, like children. Unfortunately, under the law of every state in the country, a pet is considered property.

As such, you cannot leave your pet’s money or assets, although this hasn’t stopped many people from trying. Legally, it’s not feasible.

If something happens to a pet owner, the question is ultimately this: how do you nominate someone to look after the pets?

Do People Generally Know About Pet Trusts?

Some people know about pet trusts and bring them up with their attorneys. The people without children who feel their pets are their children always bring it up.

An example of this is found with a single woman with a bunch of cats or a couple with a few dogs. People like this usually know about the pet trusts.

Usually, I try to bring up the idea of the pet trust just to see if my client has any pets and how he wants to handle the situation.

What Kind of Provisions Can People Make for their Pets? Could they Appoint a Guardian?

Under the law, a pet is considered property. As such, a pet trust designates two different individuals to be involved in the care of the pet.

One individual is the special pet trustee who handles the money that is set aside for the pet. The other individual is the caregiver or the caretaker for the pet. This second person is the one most known and most trusted by the person who owns the pet.

Therefore, you have the person who takes care of the money and you have the person who takes care of the animal. This way, you have a protective check and balance system in place.

Let’s say somebody calculates a reasonable amount of money that could be utilized for ongoing care of the pet. The trustee holds the money in a trust. When he needs to, he hands the money over to the caregiver.

Oftentimes, the pet trust includes instructions for the pet’s dietary preferences, grooming instructions, veterinarian care instructions, boarding preferences, etc. This information can be as detailed as possible. The owner might want to look into pet sitters, eventual burial and cremation expenses, emergency expenses, etc.

A recent highly publicized case concerned a woman with a German shepherd named Bella. She drafted a will saying,” I leave my pet to this particular animal care facility that has a no-kill policy.” She also put that if the no-kill animal care facility was over capacity, she wanted the dog to be euthanized, cremated, and buried alongside her own ashes.

When this woman died, the pet shelter didn’t know about this will. She didn’t tell them ahead of time. The executor of her will was all set to get the dog euthanized because the animal shelter was overcapacity.

Ultimately, the dog’s situation was publicized. The pet shelter was notified, and they eventually decided to take the dog. This could have been really bad for Bella, the German shepherd.

Isn’t this Area Ripe for Dispute After the Person Who Makes the Trust Dies?

Yes, of course. This is because the pets can’t talk! They can’t stand up for themselves.

Somebody must take care of them. That’s why there’s always a caregiver. The caregivers are usually close friends, neighbors, or close relatives who agree to do it.

Usually, there’s a bit of remuneration built into the pet trust for the caregiver. However, the trustee always holds the money. The trustee is also under the obligation to inspect the animal and make sure it’s being cared for properly and taken to the veterinarian often.

For more information on Pet Trusts, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you’re seeking by calling (949) 660-0007 today.



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