Are you worried about who will take care of your pet after you pass away? If so, contact a Pet Trust attorney. Their expertise will allow you to establish a pet trust that can ensure your pet is cared for through secure finances and your written instructions.
What Is a Pet Trust?
A Pet Trust is a legal document that provides finances, care and maintenance of your pet should you die or suffer severe disability.
Unlike regular Trusts, there is no human beneficiary required. Instead, a Pet Trust designates a Trustee responsible for managing and spending the Trust in the pet’s best interests.
A Trustee can also be selected by a court if you wish. If someone is concerned about the Pet’s welfare, they can request that a Pet Trustee be appointed or removed.
In Florida, a Pet Trust can provide care for an animal’s entire life, or if there are multiple pets, until the death of the last surviving pet.
Funds placed in the Trust should be used for the animal’s benefit only. However, there have been scenarios where a court determined there were excessive funds in the Trust. The funds were then returned to the Settlor or the Estate of the Settlor.
If you wish to set up a Trust for your pet, you should contact a Pet Trust attorney.
Common Pet Trust Uses:
Pets often outlive their owners, especially if the owner was elderly when the pet was young. Without a Pet Trust, your pet may be left isolated with no financial support and no guarantee of a safe future. Funds are often used for:
- Housing and Shelter
- Pet Boarding
- Pet Food
- Pet Insurance
- Toys, Dog walking and recreation
- Veterinary Care
Did You Know?
- Heartbreakingly, between 5-7 million pets enter animal shelters every year following the death of their owners.
- The development of Pet Trusts is part of the Animal Rights movement.
Changes From Previous Law
Florida Statute 736.0408 was recently changed, making Pet Trusts legally binding documents.
Before, Pet Trusts were ‘honorary’ and more like wishes. There was no authority for the courts to enforce them properly. Now, pets are considered similar to beneficiaries, and a Trustee’s actions must be in their best interests.
How Do Pet Trusts Work?
In most cases, the designated Trustee will hold property, or cash, ‘in trust’ for the Pet.
Payments must then be made by following the instructions laid out in the Pet Trust.
These are usually very detailed and ask for regular payments, specific brands of food, veterinary visits and other demands of care. They may also include housing and Pet insurance details.
Put simply; this is your chance to ensure that your pet must be cared for and maintained in specific ways, as chosen by you.
Trusts must be worded carefully, as any vague language could result in misunderstandings. A Pet Trust attorney can help you draft, revise and submit your documents, ensuring nothing is left to chance. This will include funding, care requirements, Trustee selection, successor Trustees and the selection of you want to look after your Pet.
Why Not Use a Will To Protect a Pet?
It may seem easy to include requirements for your pet’s future in your will, but it might not be the wisest decision:
- Probate can be a long and uncertain procedure. But your pet will require immediate care. They can’t take care of themselves after you pass – they need a plan in place.
- In a Will, you also can’t leave money that is specifically for your pet.
- Instructions are usually difficult to enforce. For example, specific cleaning or feeding rules.
- A Will cannot control the disbursement of funds like a trust can.
- A Will is only active once you die. It cannot help if you become severely disabled.
Choosing the person to act as the caregiver and guardian of your pet is a big decision. This individual must be someone you trust as they’ll be responsible for your pet, just like you are now.
It’s highly advised that you speak with the person and their family, as not everyone may be open to being included in a Pet Trust. It’s often wise to list a second or third caregiver in case the first person is unable to provide the support needed.
How Much Money to Include in a Pet Trust?
Deciding the value of the funds available in a Pet Trust should be considered carefully. But it’s a challenging decision, especially with such uncertainty.
Your Pet Trust attorney will help you decide on an optimal figure while using their unparalleled estate planning skills.
What Happens After a Pet Trust is Created?
A Pet Trust lasts until it is needed, just like all trusts. However, it’s wise to review your Pet Trust documents and arrangements every year with the support of a Pet Trust attorney.
Law changes, life changes and new ideas may arise since you initially created the document. Not making annual changes leaves your pet at risk of not being adequately protected.
Pet Trusts Created Outside of Florida
If you created a Pet Trust in another state and have since moved to Florida, then rest assured the State of Florida honors all testamentary documents – as long as they comply with Florida’s Trust laws.
If you have recently moved to Florida, it’s advised that you visit a Florida Pet Trust attorney to review your documents and provide guidance on how Florida’s laws may impact your pet.
Contact a Florida Pet Trust Attorney
If you want to protect your pet after your death and make caregiving instructions enforceable, you should contact a Florida Pet Trust attorney.
Doing so will allow you to create a Pet Trust that is precisely worded to avoid misinterpretations or bad financial decisions for your beloved animal.
Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A. is a U.S. News and World Reports Tier 1 law firm in Florida, specializing in Estate Planning & Probate since 1958. With award-winning experienced attorneys, they give you the best chance of getting the resolution you hope for.
Schedule a free consultation today to get started or to get any questions answered.