I always had pets growing up… cats, dogs, the occasional gold fish won at a fair by throwing a ping pong into the fishbowl, and while I was in 4-H, sheep and sometimes chickens. (Sadly my sheep “Peebles” was purchased one year by the local grocery store and I had a hard time walking near the meat department all summer.) Pets can make us laugh (like my favorite cat Frankie who played fetch like a dog) can frustrate the heck out of us (for those of you who are aware of stories of our current dog Penny you know what I’m talking about) keep us company, keep our feet warm, make us exercise more, help us learn responsibility, drain our wallets, and did you know petting a cat can even lower your heart rate?
This month’s topic is about pet trusts. While they are not necessary for everyone, occasionally we have a client who wants to ensure the care of a very special pet. For those of you with animals, reptiles, or feathered friends that can live a really long time (such as horses, turtles, and parrots) a pet trust might be something to consider. If you need to plan for these special members of your family, we can help.
Who Will Take Care of My Pet?
Your pet may be your best friend or your most loyal companion who gives you unconditional love, but when you die, your pet is considered property just like your china or your pots and pans. You cannot leave money to your pet and you should name a guardian for your pet if you want him to be well cared for when you are no longer able to care for him.
The best way to provide for your pet is to establish a pet trust. A pet trust is like other types of trusts in that you set aside specific assets for the specific purpose of caring for your pet.
How Much Should You Put in a Pet Trust?
Every pet has a different lifestyle just as every owner does. Some pet owners are willing to spend hundreds each month on the best food and dog toys money can buy. Some pay for doggy daycare and some are willing to pay for a personal dog walker. Veterinary bills can be very expensive and there are optional treatments a pet owner may or may not be willing to finance. Establishing a pet trust will mean the pet will never be a financial burden for his new caregiver.
A Pet Trust not only allows for the financial care of a pet if his owner passes away, but also allows someone else to start caring for a pet if his owner should become incapacitated in any way.