What is a Pet Trust?
A pet trust functions just like a regular trust in that it’s a legal arrangement that stipulates how your pet or multiple pets will be cared for should you become incapacitated. One of the most appealing benefits for pet lovers is that contrary to listing your pet in a will and the beneficiary may not want the pet or is not equipped to take care of it, putting the pet or pets in a trust can allow for specific instructions and little more control for the pet parent.
According to the Arizona legislature, “a trust for the care of a designated domestic pet or animal is valid. The trust terminates when no living animal is covered by the trust.”
What Are Some Advantages to a Pet Trust?
Creating a pet trust can be appealing for several reasons. Many people are living longer and may be living alone after a spouse passes away. This consequence may make their pets their consistent family members rather than just a dog or a cat.
On the contrary, maybe you aren’t alone and have just treated your animals like family members, and you want to provide for them and ensure they are safe and happy long after you are gone. Either way, a pet trust may be just the right fit.
One of the main benefits of creating a pet trust is the peace of mind that it can bring. If you know they need things done a certain way or require medical intervention, this may be an especially important reason to continue to provide for them. You can stipulate in the trust what needs must be met.
Caregiver accountability – it may be too easy to gift a potential caregiver of your pets with a sum of money intended to be used on your pet. It’s tough to regulate this or ensure it happens, however, which is where a trust can come in. If funds in the trust are designated explicitly for things like grooming, health issues, kenneling services, and more, the funds can only be used for these things.
No financial burden – pets can be expensive and maybe something others can’t afford. If you choose to gift your pet to someone, creating a trust may provide them with the financial means to best care for and keep your pet. You can account for possible expensive vet bills by setting aside a certain amount and requiring that it be spent on emergencies or other reasons.
How Does the Trust Work?
Just as in a regular trust, the trustee manages the funds within the trust. In the case of a pet trust, the trustee can be the person who is now the pet’s caregiver, or it can be another person.
If the trustee is not the pet’s caregiver, they can communicate with the caregiver and distribute the money only as necessary and for the purposes stipulated within the trust.
Choose a Guardian
You get to remain in control of the level of care your pet receives by choosing who the caregiver will be and ensuring they have the resources to care for your pet in the same manner you do.
The best practice is to choose a couple of guardians so that it can be arranged if there is a need for a secondary guardian. These are likely people close to you and your pet and someone you know would be a good fit and is willing to care for your pet just as you would.
Choosing who will care for your pet helps to alleviate the concern that your pet is cared for as necessary. Some family members just don’t understand how important our pets are to us and may decide that your pet should be given up for adoption or surrendered to a shelter. By choosing a guardian and creating rules to follow in the trust, you can rest easy knowing that your pet will still be cared for.
Necessary Items to Include in Pet Estate Planning
A detailed description of your pet should be included so the courts can confirm that the pet is accurate.
A remainder beneficiary, such as another person or a charity, should be named so the leftover funds (if they exist) can be transferred to the new entity or person.
Specific Instructions – being clear about how your pet should be cared for can benefit any pet lover. Those with pets who must follow a particular diet or medication regimen can include instructions on how to do so. For example, if your dog needs a specific food and an exercise routine to help prevent health issues or hip injuries, you can stipulate this in the instructions. Similarly, a certain vet may provide excellent care for your pet, and you would like to ensure they are still utilized. These items can be communicated in the trust as well. Some things can’t be thoroughly enforced, but having a framework may help your peace of mind.
Compassionate and Capable
Our team is both compassionate and capable. We understand how much pets can mean to a person, and we want to help you ensure they are protected and cared for for years to come.
Our attorneys work closely with our clients and listen to them with a compassionate ear, respecting the peace of mind that is needed when loving our animals.
Call our office today at (623) 267-0026 to schedule your consultation and learn more about how we can ensure your pets remain family.
We look forward to serving you.