What is a Pet Trust?
A pet trust is a legally sanctioned arrangement that provides for the care and maintenance of one or more pets in the event of their owner’s disability or death. The person who creates the trust is commonly referred to as the ‘settlor.’ The person who is entrusted with the funds is called the ‘trustee.’ A trust can take effect either during a person’s lifetime or after their death. Typically, a trustee will hold property (cash, for example) “in trust” for the settlor’s pet or pets. When the time comes, the trustee will make payments on a regular basis to a designated caregiver. In some states, the trust may continue for the rest of the animal’s life or for 21 years, whichever comes first. Other states allow a pet trust to continue for the rest of the animal’s life without regard to the 21-year limitation. This is especially advantageous when planning for companion animals such as a horse or a parrot, which have a longer life expectancy than a cat or a dog.
How to Proceed?
It is advisable to set up a trust with the help of an attorney who specializes in estate planning.
Why a Pet Trust?
Because most trusts are enforceable by law, pet owners will have peace of mind knowing their pets will be cared for according to their instructions. The directions left in a trust can, and should, be very specific. If your cat only likes a particular brand of food, your dog looks forward to daily romps in the park or if your pet should visit the veterinarian three times a year, you can specify this in a trust agreement. A trust that goes into effect while the pet owner is still alive can provide instructions for the care of the animals in the event that the pet owner becomes gravely sick or injured. Since pet owners know the particular habits of their animals better than anyone else, they can describe the kind of care their pets should have and provide a list of the person(s) who would be willing to provide that care.
Tracy A Craig, Esq. is a partner and chair of the Trusts and Estates Group at Mirick O'Connell, Attorneys at Law.. A key element of Tracy's expertise is incorporating pets into planning.
Read Tracy's article Pet Trusts: A Q&A that appeared in the 2013 December issue of MassVet News.
Read Tracy's article that appeared in Financial Planning.
Other Resources for Pet Trusts are:
|Gollub Law Office, P.C. is prepared to assist veterinarians and pet owners with a variety of professional and personal matters, including:
Peter Gollub, DVM JD earned his veterinary degree from Tufts, and his law degree from Boston University, and is a past member of the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Veterinary Medicine.Gollub Law Office, P.C. is conveniently located in Natick, next to the West Natick Commuter Rail station, and appointments can be arranged for off-site, after-hour, and weekend meetings when necessary.