Taking care of your entire estate should include taking care of you pets. Too often attorneys fail to address the problem of how your pet(s) will be taken care of or by whom. A pet trust does not have to be an independent trust. It can be easily incorporated to your living trust for the rest of your estate. This lack of consideration by many attorneys leaves millions of pets abandoned or orphaned every single year. Many of these pets are sadly euthanized when there is no place for them to spend the rest of their life.
California Probate Code 15212 provides a way to your pets are cared for after you have passed away. Under this law, you can set up a trust that will assign a person to provide a home for your pet and set aside funds to provide for the life of your pet(s). This can include the cost of food, vet bills, pet toys, home comforts, bathing, and more. A Pet Trust can give you piece of mind that they will be cared for if you are not able.
Is Having A Pet Trust Too Much?
You may think setting up a pet trust is only for animal lovers and pet parents. It’s NOT. Setting up a Pet Trust takes the burden off of your family of having to figure out your intentions when you are gone. It will also help with the financial cost of caring for your animals. Often members of your family with take in your pet as a way help them mourn the loss of you in their life. Some family member may be in such a strong emotional state that they will take the animal in to their home with no way of being able to financially provide for the animal. Making the decision to set up a Pet Trust will mitigate these future problems for your family and pet(s).
What to Consider In Caring For Your Pet?
Pet: The first thing to consider is the pet. The type of animal will limit the potential people that will take care of your pet. Dogs will need a person with a yard or someone that that is willing to take the dog out daily. As independent as cats are, a cat is going to need someone with the time to give them attention and tend to them. If you have a horse, there are likely less people you know that are able to care for them. If you have multiple pets that you do not want to split up, the person taking them in will need to have the ability and home to accommodate for them. These considerations will help you limit the field of trusted people you have in mind for caring for your pet(s).
Financial: You do not have to provide financial assistance to the person you are caring for you animal if they are willing to pay for their care. However, in most cases you will need to consider the amount of money you spend each month on your pet. This will give you a base amount needed for them. Looking at the life expectancy will let you know how much you will need to set aside. But, this is not all. As pets get older the cost of veterinarian bills tend to increase, so you will need adjust for these expenses.
Person: Finding a trusted person that is willing to take on this responsibility upon your death or incapacity may be difficult. From a legal stance, this person has no legal obligation to do anything for your pet. This is why it is important to choose them carefully. Find a person that is of good moral character to honor your final wishes. If you have set up a pet trust the caretaker may have to keep an annual accounting of funds in which they have been entrusted. It is also recommended to have a backup person in case the person you have selected falls on hard times or is unable to step in when you are gone.
If you do not have a person to take care of your pets, you can grant authority to the Trustee to find a person or organization to handle a pet adoption upon your death. This may include additional costs to be set aside for this process. Adding care for your pets to you existing estate plan is also an option for individuals that have considered every other aspect of their estate plan. Contact Gavel Law Firm with any question or set a consultation with our office.