Pet Care Planning through Trusts
An important part of our families, pets deserve continuing care in the event of our incapacity or death. The best way to do this is to establish a Pet Trust. Not only for dogs and cats, Trusts may be established under Florida law for all kinds of animal companions, including horses, hamsters, guinea pigs, birds, and more.
As a Florida Attorney, I am also an animal advocate with extensive experience with these unique trusts. If you worry about what will happen to your pet after you become disabled or pass away, it is important to speak with a knowledgeable Pet Trust Attorney. I welcome your inquiries, and will be happy to arrange a consultation about a trust for your pet.
How Does a Trust Provide for My Pet?
Under Florida law, a Pet Trust is a legally binding document that ensures that funds are available and a caretaking system is in place. The trust must be properly drafted by an attorney, because money cannot be left to a pet, but can be left for the care and benefit of the pet.
In the Trust, you name a Trustee (someone who manages the Trust) and a caretaker. The Trustee allocates funds to the caretaker, who physically cares for the pet according to your directions and guidelines stated in the Trust.
In the Trust, you may provide specific directions for health care needs, diet and exercise, preferred veterinarians, and burial or cremation plans. You may still be living, although incapacitated, while your pet lives with the caretaker.
If you have more than one pet, you can direct that the pets live together. A Pet Trust should have sufficient funds that will care for your pet for its expected lifetime. Funds would be used for anything needed to maintain your desired standard of living for your pet, such as
- Food and treats
- Veterinary care
- Recreation and toys
The Trust will stay in effect for the lifetime of your pet. After death, any remaining funds can be distributed to the beneficiaries you select, including charities.
Why Not Use a Will to Protect My Pet?
Wills may include provisions for pets, but should be supplemented by a Pet Trust.
- In a Will, your pet will be treated as property to be distributed – and you cannot leave money to property.
- Specific instructions about your pet in a Will would not be enforceable. For example, a beneficiary may get your house and your dog… yet just as that beneficiary may not clean the house once a week, they many not feed, bathe and walk the dog.
- Wills can get tied up in lengthy probate, and can be contested. A Trust becomes effective immediately, and your pet needs immediate attention.
- A Will cannot control the disbursement of funds for the pet, as a Trust would.
- A Will is only effective upon your death; it cannot address the pet’s care if you become incapacitated.
Estate Planning for Pets is Essential
Planning for the unexpected is important for your pets. Exercise your right under Florida law to protect your pets in your Estate Planning. By having a Pet Trust in place, you will know your companion will be fully cared for in the manner you care for them now.
I can help you craft a Trust that will ensure the continued care and protection of your faithful companion, should your pet outlive you. To learn more, please call The Law Office of Kathleen Flammia in Winter Park, Florida at 407-478-8700 or contact us online.