Using Pet Trusts to Plan for Man’s Best Friend

When considering your Estate Plan, you are making decisions regarding how you would like for your property to be disposed of after your passing. Of course, this includes items such as your home, car, jewelry, stamp collection and other various personalty you’ve gathered over the years. But what about your beloved pet?

It is becoming increasingly more common for individuals to plan for the care of an animal for the years after their passing. Such planning is necessary not only to ensure that specific instructions are followed for the care of the animal, but also to provide the funds to be certain that the pet’s standard of living can be maintained.

This planning is typically done through a Pet Trust. Much like any other trust agreement, a Pet Trust is created during a person’s lifetime, or on their death, and provides for the maintenance of a beneficiary. In the case of a Pet Trust, however, the beneficiary is an animal or animals.

A Pet Trust is beneficial in that it provides the Grantor with a great deal of control over how a pet is cared for. In the Trust, the Grantor appoints a Caregiver, as well as a Trustee. The Caregiver is the person who is to provide the care for the beneficiary animal, according to the terms of the Trust. If the appointed Caregiver is unable or unwilling to serve, the Trust will either appoint a Successor Caregiver, or the Trustee may appoint one. The Trustee holds the property, which is usually a certain amount of money, in trust for the beneficiary pet. The Trustee will release the property to the Caregiver, subject to the conditions outlined by the Grantor in the Trust.

In New York, a Pet Trust will terminate when the beneficiary animal is no longer alive. At that time, the Trust will direct where any unused portion of the trust property is to go. Additionally, the Trust will dictate the Grantor’s wishes for the final disposition of the pet.

If you are interested in discussing the options you have regarding planning for your pets, contact Katz, Smith & Chwat, P.C. today to set up an appointment.

Posted in: Estate Planning