Written by Susan Willett
In past articles, I have stressed the importance of having a plan and reviewing that plan on a regular basis. That has and will always be my advice. I have discussed various aspects of what should be included in the plan, who should be included, how often to review, what types of documents should be included, etc. One thing; however, that I have not covered yet is a subject near and dear to my heart- our pets. What happens to our furry, feathered or scaly friends when we pass? With the recent hurricane activity we’ve seen, this has certainly been an issue that has been in the forefront of many people’s minds. So, how can we make sure that they are properly taken care of? There are several ways. Pet trusts are one of those ways. All fifty states (except Minnesota) now recognize pet trusts and allow owners to set aside funds for the care of their fur babies. In most states, there are limitations placed on these trusts such as:
- Amount of funds
- Life of pet
- 21 years
- Whichever comes first
Like a regular trust, these plans typically name a trustee to oversee the trust, that funds are invested properly, and distributions are made for the benefit of the pet. The agreement would also name a caregiver to provide for the physical well-being of the animals. So how do you go about establishing this plan?
- Create a basic budget- how much does it normally cost to take care of your pet on an annual basis, including unexpected vet bills
- Decide on who you would want to care for them and make sure to discuss it with that person(s) to ensure that they are willing and able to take on the responsibility
- Decide on who should be the one to handle the funds since it should be someone different than the caregiver, for obvious reasons
- Consider leaving a certain amount to the caregiver; however, for their time and efforts on your behalf and that of your beloved babe.
- Ensure that the caregiver is fully aware of any medical needs, feeding habits veterinarian name/location, favorite toys/food and any other quirks specific to Fluffy that would be helpful in making the transition that comes with your passing.
- Decide what happens with any funds that are leftover when Fido goes to that big fire hydrant in the sky. Do they go the way of the remainder of your estate? To an animal related charity? Either way, it should be spelled out in the agreement.
If your sweet little companion is as close to you as mine are, then you know that, when the time comes, the loss will hit them as hard as it does any human. Unfortunately, we don’t know how animals view death, but we do know that they understand loss and separation, so anything that can be done to minimize the stress on everyone involved is worth the effort. As always, if you would like more information on this subject or any other discussed in our articles, please feel free to contact one of our advisors here at ONST.
Old North State Trust, LLC (ONST) periodically produces publications as a service to clients and friends. The information contained in these publications is intended to provide general information about issues related to trust, investment and estate related topics. Readers should be aware that the facts may vary depending upon individual circumstances. The information contained in these publications is intended solely for informational purposes, is proprietary to ONST and is not guaranteed to be accurate, complete or timely.