Creating a Pet Trust is nowhere near Crazy

Posted by Joseph Franks on February 18th, 2020

You may have heard of a handful of celebrities who left millions of dollars to their beloved pet. Although it sounds like a fad for the filthy rich, the idea is not a bizarre one anymore. Our attitude towards animals has evolved and their importance in our lives has elevated over the past decade or two. More than 80% of pet keepers in the U.S consider their furry, feathery, or scaly animal as a family member. Many people prefer titles like ‘dog parent’ or ‘cat mommy’ instead of the conventional ‘pet owner’. Today, pets are seen as equals to biological children, so it is only fair that they inherit a share in your assets as well.

Unfortunately, the legal system in most states of the U.S. identifies pets as property, so you cannot appoint them as a direct heir to your money or real estate. No matter how smart, a domestic animal is not capable of utilizing the assets on their own, so a ‘pet trust’ makes sense. With a pet trust, you appoint a trustee and a caregiver to provide for your animal the way you prefer. The trend of pet trusts is definitely growing but it is still not mainstream, so you may consult Hegwood Law Group in Houston, Texas to avoid misconceptions.

Keeping a pet is a big responsibility as they depend on us for basic living needs throughout their life span. There is often a possibility that your pet will outlive you, so you might as well think about their welfare in your absence. People who truly care for their animal companion will want them to live a good life till the end. You may not have property worth millions, but you can still establish a practical Pet Trust to make sure that your friend does not end up at an animal shelter. There are 3 main options to choose from:

  1.       Traditional Trust

An assigned trustee will manage the finances you allocate to your trust fund. The designated caretaker will receive a fixed amount of money from the trustee at regular intervals to fulfill the needs of your pet. You may include detailed instructions regarding pet care, such as their favored food brand, grooming procedures, vet visits, and naptime requirements.

  1.       Statutory Trust

You simply denote a sum of money to the pet (let’s say ,000) in your written will, and probate court handles the rest. You cannot include particular directions in this kind of trust, so its fate is the hand of the legal system.

  1.       Pet Protection Agreement

You can choose a pet guardian during your lifetime to take over after your death. You and the future caretaker sign an agreement, so the document is legally binding. This kind of arrangement does not require funding, though the custodian must be willing to bear all expenses. You can include guidelines for special needs that he/she must abide by.

Wrapping Up

A traditional trust holds the most value as it covers all formalities and provides enhanced pet protection. Your money will go where you requested and a third party does not control your pet’s destiny. However, make sure to acquire consent of the future custodians and retain successors in case they refuse the responsibility later on. Be reasonable and add some financial incentive to the caregiver during your pet’s lifetime.

Any remaining funds after your pet’s demise shall be directed elsewhere; do not allocate it to the trustee or caregiver as it may give motive to get rid of the animal. The trustee and caregiver should not be the same person, as it becomes more likely that they use the funding for personal expenses and deprive your pet of its rights.

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Joseph Franks

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Joseph Franks
Joined: September 16th, 2019
Articles Posted: 102

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