Archive for Pet Trust
PET TRUSTS: PLANNING FOR THE FURRY MEMBERS OF YOUR FAMILY
My dog is definitely part of my family. Whether I leave for five minutes or five hours, he is always overjoyed when I return. He is our resident clown, making my husband and me laugh after even the longest day at work. We often say we love him like a child.
Since you are reading this article, you likely feel the same about your pet. If I asked you what you do to keep your pet happy and healthy, I bet you could name dozens of things that you do to take care of your furry companion. But what would happen to Fido or Fluffy if something happened to you?
The sad truth is that most people fail to make proper arrangements for the care of their pets in case they are no longer available or able to do it themselves. They may assume that a family member or friend will step into their shoes, or even have an informal agreement to that effect. However, without a valid legal document in place, that family member or friend is not bound to care for your pet – properly, or at all!
The good news is that many states, including Florida, allow pet owners to plan for their pet by creating a pet trust. You can use a pet trust not just to name the person(s) who will take care of your pet in case of your disability or death, but also to specify what kind of care your pet must receive and provide the funds to pay for it. A qualified estate planning attorney should be able to create a pet trust as part of your overall estate plan. At Cramer Law Center, we would be happy to help you develop a comprehensive estate plan for your family, whether furry, human, or both!
FEBRUARY IS RESPONSIBLE PET OWNERS MONTH
According to the Humane Society of the United States, 39 percent of U.S. households have at least one dog and 33 percent have at least one cat. Together, we own more than 77 million dogs and 93 million cats! Then there are the 12 million birds and 7 million horses, together with our tropical fish, ferrets, hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, lizards, snakes, turtles…you get the picture. We Americans really love our pets.
Responsible Pet Owners Month was created to remind us about the importance of properly caring for our companion animals. What does responsible pet ownership entail? Much of the emphasis is on dogs and cats, since they are far and away the most popular. Spaying or neutering stands at the top of the list. Every year, 8 million cats and dogs, many of them strays, wind up in animal shelters across the country. Of these, more than half are put down.
Responsible pet ownership of a dog includes proper training, feeding a balanced diet, cleaning up after your dog on walks, regular grooming, providing plenty of attention and exercise, and making sure your pet has an up-to-date identification tag implanted, or at least on a collar.
As an estate planning law firm, we think this is also a good time to remind you that while companion animals are sometimes our very best friends in life, they are often not provided for in estate plans. Shelters and veterinarians euthanize an estimated 500,000 pets each year when their owners die before them. While an outright gift to an animal is void under law in some states, the creation of an honorary trust for the care of your beloved animal companions is generally permissible. For example, you can leave your pet to a specific caregiver and create a trust to benefit the caregiver, with specific instructions on how to utilize the funds left for the pet’s care.
The main objective of using a trust to care for your pet is to provide a flexible method for managing financial assets for the benefit of any pets that survive you. By using a trust, you can designate a party to act as guardian or caretaker for the pet. Furthermore, a trust allows you to leave specific instructions concerning the standard of care and special needs of your beloved companion animal.
In honor of Responsible Pet Owners Month, we suggest that you give your beloved companion some extra treats this week. But not too many—that would be irresponsible!