There is a misconception among some pet owners, that pet planning is as easy as including a provision in your will. The reality is, if you really want to protect your pet’s future and be assured that your wishes for your beloved friend will be fulfilled after your death or incapacity, you may need to consider other pet planning options, such as a pet trust or pet protection agreement.
What is a pet trust?
A pet trust is established and operated much like any other trust. A trust account is created with sufficient funds and other assets to provide for the support and care of your pet. The specific terms of the trust document provide the instructions necessary for the caregiver to provide care for your pet the way you desire. A trustee, assigned to manage the trust, will remain in control of the trust property, and ensure that your instructions are being followed.
Pet protection agreements are another option
Pet protection planning can be accomplished in different ways. Trusts are not the only option, other than will provisions. Another tool is the pet protection agreement, which provides a way for pet owners to determine all the terms of their pet’s future care ahead of time, without as much of the formality that comes with a pet trust. Unlike using a will, a pet protection agreement can be drafted to that it becomes effective if you ever become incapacitated and unable to care of your pet. This can be a great benefit.
How is a pet trust and a pet protection agreement different?
Both pet planning instruments provide the same ability to choose a caregiver and set out the specifics of how your pet should be cared for in the event of your death. However, there are a few differences that you should consider before deciding which method of pet planning is best for you.
First, a trust is more formal than a pet agreement. Because of the formality and complexity of trusts in general, they typically require the assistance of an attorney to draft and create. Whereas, a pet protection agreement is more affordable and less complex.
On that note, one of the things that makes a pet trust more complicated is the need to maintain trust funds. This is not required with a pet protection agreement. Instead, funds can be set aside and designated for the benefit of your pet. Since, a pet protection agreement is just as legally binding as a trust, those funds must be used solely for the benefit of the pet.
Which should I use? Pet trust or pet protection agreement?
The choice is always yours. Since, each client’s circumstances are different, it may be a good idea to discuss your situation with your pet planning attorney to determine what you need. Generally speaking, if you plan to leave a substantial sum of money for the care of your pet, a trust is probably the best, and safest, idea. Also, if you believe your family members may potentially have a dispute with your plan, a trust may also be a better option.
If you have questions regarding pet trusts, pet agreements, or any other pet protection planning needs, please contact the Schomer Law Group either online or by calling us at (310) 337-7696.