What is the Greatest Gift of Love You Can Give Your Pet?

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On Behalf of: Hatley Law Group, APC | POSTED ON: February 7, 2023

Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate love and companionship, two categories your pet surely falls under.  Unfortunately, you can’t give your pet the classic rose and chocolate combo.  For one, most pets cannot consume chocolate. Flowers can be poisonous to the average pet as well.  So, what is the perfect gift for your pet?  Two words: Pet Trust.  After all, it is our responsibility as pet owners to care for and protect our beloved fur babies, even after we are no longer here.

It’s sad to imagine not being here to look after your beloved pet, but the truth is tomorrow is never guaranteed.  Who would look after your pet if something were to happen to you?  This is where a pet trust comes into play.  A pet trust could ensure your fur baby is taken care of if you pass away or suddenly become incapacitated.

How Does a Pet Trust Work?

A pet cannot simply inherit its owner’s money because it’s considered property.  When establishing a pet trust, a pet parent, also considered the grantor, should appoint a dependable caregiver known as the beneficiary.  Said caregiver would be responsible for looking after the pet and providing everything it needs. Using the funds from the pet trust, of course, so picking a trustworthy & dependable person is critical.  One must also elect a trustee, the person who would be in charge of distributing the funds for the pet.  The trustee would also oversee the pet's care throughout its lifespan to ensure the funds aren’t mishandled.

How Long Should You Plan For?

A common misconception is that one has to be “rich” to establish a pet trust, but that is not true.  The amount of funds you should add to the trust depends on the desired quality of life for your pet.  Does your pet prefer high-quality pet food?  Does your pet have a condition that requires frequent veterinary visits and special medication?  These are just a few questions that should come to mind when contemplating how much would be appropriate to fund the trust.  Also, keep in mind that every pet species has a different lifespan.  Most states have a twenty-one-year limit, which should be plenty of time for a cat or dog. However, it is always best to consult with an estate planning attorney.

A recent article from ASPCA’s Pet Trust Primer” says, “some states limit the amount of money in a pet trust and will penalize overfunding.  Making sure your pet trust is appropriately funded may limit the likelihood of it being challenged.” If you do not have a pet trust established, consider consulting with Estate Planning Attorney Rod Hatley, and make sure to ask about state laws regarding pet trusts.  Book a free consultation today.

Reference: ASPCA (2023) "Pet Care/ Pet Planning; Pet Trust Primer."

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12636 High Bluff Dr., Ste. 400
San Diego, CA 92130-2071

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