If you have a family pet, you probably devote a significant amount of time and money to your pet. After all, your pet is a member of the family. Have you considered what will happen to your family pet if something happens to you? To be certain that your pet is protected if you become incapacitated or are no longer here, the Los Angeles pet planning attorneys at Schomer Law Group, APC explain why you may wish to include a pet trust in your estate plan.
Pets Are Part of the Family in America
In America, we consider pets to be part of the family, unlike most other countries. In fact, according to the American Pets Products Association (APPA), about 70 percent of American households have at least one pet and collectively we spent almost $110 billion a year on our pets. Not only do we spend money on gifts for our pets, but almost half of American pet owners spend the same amount of money or more on their pets’ healthcare as they do on their own. If you are a pet lover, you need to make sure your pet is protected if something happens to you. Sadly, millions of family pets end up in shelters every year following the death of their human “owner.” Even if a family member or loved one remembers your pet, there may be legal or practical hurdles that prevent that person from taking over your pet’s care. Creating a pet trust as part of a larger pet planning component within your estate plan is the best way to protect your beloved family pet.
Why Is a Pet Trust Necessary?
Making a verbal agreement with someone to care for your pet or gifting your pet in your Last Will and Testament are less than ideal ways to protect your pet. With a verbal agreement, your intended caregiver could be unable or unwilling to fulfill the agreement when the time comes. Furthermore, there is no legal way to enforce the agreement and no way to provide funds for the continued care and maintenance of your pet. “Gifting” your pet in your Last Will and Testament does not legally obligate your caregiver to take over the care and maintenance of your pet nor does it provide a satisfactory funding method. Finally, neither of these options covers a situation where you become incapacitated.
Using a pet trust to protect and provide for your pet is, by far, the best option. Like any trust, you will appoint someone as the Trustee of the trust and fund the trust with sufficient assets to care for your pet. The Trustee of your trust is legally obligated to use the utmost care when managing the trust assets and to follow the trust terms just as you wrote them. Those terms can be used to dictate how you wish your pet to be care for in as much, or as little, detail as you wish. A pet trust provides the legal oversight you need to ensure that the funds you leave behind will be used exclusively for your pet and that your pet’s care will be continued in the manner to which your pet is accustomed. Finally, a pet trust can also address incapacity. The Trustee can take over the care of your pet until you recover, or indefinitely. Creating a pet trust provides you with the peace of mind you need regarding your pet.
Contact Los Angeles Pet Planning Attorneys
For more information, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions or concerns about including a pet trust in your estate plan, contact the experienced Los Angeles pet planning attorneys at Schomer Law Group APC by calling (310) 337-7696 to schedule an appointment.