A Trust Fund for Your Pet – Looking Out for Your Pet’s Future
by Lorie Huston, DVM on December 28, 2013
We all hear about celebrities who leave millions of dollars to their dogs and cats. That’s all well and good. It makes a fun news story. But most owners just are not that wealthy. Sadly, if something happens that makes it impossible for you to take care of your pet, your pet could end up in a shelter or with a new family where he may not adjust to the new surroundings. Here are some great ideas to help make sure your pet gets the care he or she needs, even if you cannot provide that care.
*Pets who outlive their owners are often given to relatives who may not have the means or the desire to care for an animal. Sadly, some pets even end up in local animal shelters or in foster homes. Sadly, the dog belonging to one of my clients ended up in this situation. The owner was an elderly gentleman with health issues. He left his belongings (home, financial accounts, etc.) to his nephew, with the understanding that his nephew would in turn care for his young lab when he passed. Unfortunately, the nephew did not hold up his end. He took the money and belongings, and took the lab to the shelter after his master passed away. A sad state of affairs but there was nothing that could be done to stop him.
*Leaving money in your will for a pet sounds like a good idea, but legal definitions actually prevent it. In fact, in some famous celebrity cases, the amount of money left for pets has been decreased by court order.
*Thankfully, most states now recognize a person’s intent to care for their pet and allow the creation of pet trusts.
*Pet trusts can not only help insure the proper care for your pets in the event of your death, but also can provide assistance if you ever become disabled or incapacitated.
*Too many times when someone needs to enter an assisted care facility or a nursing home, their pets aren’t permitted to stay with them. A pet trust can actually help facilitate keeping your pet with you as the facility knows the needs of the pet will be met.
*Since the pet trust is administered by a trustee, the chances for fraud or unethical individuals taking advantage of money left for your pet are greatly reduced. In the case of my client, if he had created a pet trust instead of blindly trusting his nephew, the results may have been very different.
*It’s important to think about these issues prior to any illness or sudden incapacitation. Planning for your pet’s future is an important part of responsible pet ownership.
*Legal matters like this should always be discussed with your attorney. Only your attorney can give you the needed legal advice to see that your pet is properly looked after.
*Many veterinary hospitals and veterinarians may know of attorneys who specialize in pet trusts and local resources that can help pet owners plan for the future.
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About Lorie Huston, DVM Lorie Huston is an accomplished veterinarian, an award winning blogger, a talented author and a certified veterinary journalist. She is available for writing assignments, blogging and social media consultation, and SEO strategy.
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