Pet Trust

Caring for your loved ones through a Pet Trust

A pet trust is a legal strategy you can use to ensure your pet receives proper care after you die or in the event of your disability. You use good planning to set aside enough assets through a trusted person or financial institution that  is under duty to you through your estate plan.

The trusted person or agent guided by your instructions will make arrangements to transport your pet to a new caretaker. The trusted person also executes the deliver of assets to provide for the continuing care of your pet.

Pet trust information:

  1. There is a traditional pet trust that is common to all states where you pay for the continuing care you directed for your pet. The trusted person pays for and monitors the care of your pet(s). This guarantees that proper care according to your directions is maintained. The trusted person may take action in case proper care is not maintained according to your instructions.
  2. The other type of pet trust is a statutory pet trust. More than 40 states recognize this form of giving. This is executed as a basic plan less involved in the "fine details" which are left to the current force of law to implement, such as a simple provision in a will "I hereby leave $2,500.00 for the continuing care of my pet bird, Dolly."
  3. Some states do not have special laws governing pets. The traditional pet trust or legal instructions in the estate would be used.
  4. When do I create this plan. You can use a living will or just a provision included in your will. What should I consider:

    1. Food and diet
    2. Daily routines
    3. Toys
    4. Environmental structure (special housing, etc)
    5. Grooming
    6. Socialization (handler play or exercise time)
    7. Medical care, including preferred Veterinarian
    8. Compensation for the handler, special care giver or facility
    9. Method of documenting expenses for trusted person monitoring
    10. Liability insurance if your pet accidentally injures someone.
    11. How the trusted person will monitor pet care (frequency, interaction,etc)
    12. How to identify your pet
    13. What to do when your pet passes on (how to dispose of the remains).
    14. What do you want to happen if your pet out lives your assets.

  5. What is the crucial difference in trusts? The living will takes effect immediately and provides assets immediately for your pets care. The simple provision in your will takes time to execute as it must be approved by the court. This could cause unnecessary delays and does not provide for the situation of your becoming disabled should you become disabled.
  6. One important aspect is to carefully choose the assets to be used in funding the continuing care. Choosing real property or an asset that may take an unusual length of time to convert, inhibiting your trusted person from seeing to the care of your pet.
  7. How to fund your wishes is a difficult decision due to the many factors that come into play: type of pet, your pet's life expectancy, the level of care you may direct, medical costs and unexpected medical costs, and the cost of the trusted person to execute your wishes and monitor your pets care. The size of your estate plays a role in your planning. Often we have noticed that when a size-able pet trust is setup and the estate is being executed, heirs will contest your wishes and a sympathetic court may reduce the amount of your pet trust as being unreasonable. Unfortunately, this happens all too often. Since you will consult with your attorney to create the pet trust, you can address this in a planning session.
  8. Typically pet trusts are funded when created to avoid a "gap in care." A living trust which takes effect when your alive, thus funding it at creation of the pet trust makes sense. You can always add additional assets as time goes on to cover cost growth projections or you increase the level of care or stipulate other options. Your attorney may suggest other strategies to best manage your estate and pet trust.
  9. Who should the trusted person be? Typically a person or organization that will properly manage your assets and ensure your pets care is always at the expected level. You should name at least one other trusted person in case your primary choice becomes unavailable.
  10. What happens to the assets when my pet dies? You should make provisions to dispose of the remainder of the assets during the creation of the pet trust. Of course, we hope the SPCA of Ocala would be considered for a donation to help with costs maintaining our rescued population.


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Contact Information

The SPCA of Ocala
PMB 024 (mailing address)
6900 N.E. Jacksonville Rd
Ocala FL 34479
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