If a loved one’s will is poised to enter probate and you discover that a substantial amount of money has been left for the care of a family pet, it probably is not a misprint or a basis to challenge the will due to lack of capacity. Instead it is likely evidence of a growing trend.
Essentially, more people are incorporating their pets into their estate plans. After all, pets can be part of the family, so why not treat them like family? (as noted by the Petco commercials.)With that, a pet trust is a way to set aside money or property specifically dedicated for the care of a pet in the event the owner is no longer able to do so.
Pet trusts work like a traditional trust, where the trust is established with its own federal tax ID number and treated as a separate entity. Like a trust that sets aside money and assets for children, a pet trust sets aside money for health care, grooming, as well as feeding. Additionally, the trust has a trustee, who is responsible for maintaining the trust and distributing assets accordingly.
While creating a pet trust may be a noble deed, the language may not so clear regarding the pet’s daily care, when grooming should take place and who may take care of the pet in the event the appointed caretaker is no longer able to do so. Hopefully these issues can be addressed and resolved out of court with the help of an experienced probate law attorney.
If you have additional questions about pet trusts, an experienced attorney can help.