Most of us who have pets consider them part of the family; unfortunately, the plans we may have so carefully put together to protect our family do not always take our pets into account.
According to the ASPCA, only 17% of dog and cat owners have made the necessary legal plans to ensure their pets are cared for after they die. Most of us assume that our close family members, who know how much our pets mean to us, will step forward and accept responsibility for our pets after we are gone. However, pets that outlive their owners often end up in shelters because proper legal provisions were never prepared for them.
California has laws that allow pet owners to create a trust to provide for the care of their pets. A pet trust goes into effect upon your death or if you become incapacitated and unable to care for your pet. To ensure there are proper checks and balances, you may want to consider naming one person to serve as trustee to handle the money, while a different person acts as your pet’s caregiver with responsibility for the day-to-day care of your pet.
In your trust, you should detail exactly how your pet is to be treated – down to how many vet and groomer visits per year, what the pet should be fed, and any special medical needs. You must fund your pet trust sufficiently to cover your pet’s anticipated life span, and you should include a cushion in case your pet lives longer than expected or needs unanticipated medical care.
Don’t make the all too common mistake of providing for your pet through your will. Probate court can tie up wills for months or even years. It is a god idea, however, to document the existence of your pet trust in your will.
If you would like more information about protecting your loved ones – including your pets — call our office today to schedule a time for us to sit down and talk. We normally charge $750 for a Family Wealth Planning Session, but because this planning is so important, I’ve made space for the next two people who mention this article to have a complete planning session at no charge. Call today and be sure to mention this article.
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