You don’t have to be a billionaire to want to protect your pets. However, you do need to plan for their well-being, if something happens to you. According to Pet Ownership Statistics 2023 of Forbes Advisor, Texas ranks in the top 10 for the most devoted dog owners and boasts one of the top 10 cities for being the most pet friendly with over 60% of households being pet owners. While most Mineola residents know they want to provide for their pets, they may not realize that since pets are considered property, pets can’t inherit money to be used for their care.
Mineola pet owners need to designate a reliable caregiver, just as they would designate a guardian for minor children. Consider the fact that you may become incapacitated and unable to care for your pet, and thus you will need a plan in place so that your pet is protected. If you don’t have family members or friends who love animals, contact a local animal rescue group like the Humane Society to learn if they have a life-long care program for animals. Many do, with programs incorporating Charitable Remainder Trusts to cover the cost of the pet’s care.
If you want a friend or relative to care for your pet, make sure they are willing and able to do so. You should have another person as a back-up, in case something happens to them. Ask two friends or relatives if they would be willing to serve as emergency and/or long-term caretakers. Provide them with contact information for your local Mineola veterinarian, discuss your wishes about what should happen to your pet and make sure they have each other’s contact information. Have a frank discussion of how expenses will be covered and stay in touch with them. Circumstances can change over time; if they move, have a health issue, or can’t manage the care of your pet, you’ll want to know about it. Circumstances change, and someone who wants to take care of your pet now may not be able to in future years. How long you need to plan for depends upon the lifespan of your pet.
An experienced estate planning attorney, like Bradley S. Campbell can create a pet trust that will provide a legal entity to hold funds to support the care of your pet. Because state law enforces conditional distributions from the trust, the care of your pet can be enforced in court, if necessary. The pet owner names a beneficiary, the caregiver and funds the trust with enough assets to care for the pet.
Planning for pets has both legal and financial considerations. A pet trust may be created as part of a living trust or as a stand-alone trust. The named trustee has access to funds, and the language of the trust includes directions as to how funds should be used for your pet and how to distribute any remaining funds upon the death of your pet. Pet trusts are now valid in all states including Texas.
The pet owner also names a trustee. They are a responsible person who will be in charge of distributing funds and making sure they are used for the pet’s well-being. The trustee also makes sure that the pet is healthy and being properly cared for, following the directions of the trust.
You’ll need to fund the trust, making sure that there’s enough money to cover the pet’s needs throughout their lifetime. You may also consider the caregiver’s needs, depending on circumstances. How much is reasonable will depend upon the type of pet and the lifestyle of the caretaker. An apartment dweller caring for an elderly cat will need a different level of resources than a person tasked to care for a young horse.
Some states limit the amount of money in a pet trust and will penalize overfunding. Making sure your pet trust is appropriately funded by working with you estate planning attorney may limit the likelihood of its being challenged.
If you are interested in creating a pet trust or have questions about how to protect your pets and ensure they always have the care they need, book a consultation with Campbell Law Firm.
Reference: Barron’s Penta (April 18, 2022) “Future Returns: Why Fido Needs a Trust”