Estate planning usually means that you hope to leave a legacy for those who live longer than you. It also gives you an opportunity to provide for those who depend upon you for their daily needs. Most people with children name a guardian in their last will so that someone can take over their parental role. Many others also have to consider what will happen with their beloved pets or companion animals when they die.
Unlike a human child who could stand up for themselves, your pets will have no say in what happens to them after you die unless you take careful steps. Even if you name someone as the new owner of your pet, the animal quickly becomes their property, which means you have no control over what they do.
They might even euthanize your animal or surrender it for adoption. Creating a trust as part of your estate plan can prevent that tragedy from affecting the animals you love.
A pet trust helps create accountability and provides resources
As a general rule, you want to name someone different than the animal’s future owner as the trustee of a pet trust. That way, the person caring for the animals will have to ask the trustee for access to resources, making it harder for someone to abuse the inheritance you left for the animal you love.
The trustee can help ensure that your companion animal receives the right care and support it needs and can even take steps to replace the owner if they don’t treat your animal with dignity and decency.
Funding a pet trust will ensure that the financial circumstances of the person who takes your animal won’t affect your animal’s quality of life. A trust can have resources to cover housing expenses, specialty pet food and even veterinary care.
A trust also allows you to redistribute those assets when your pet dies
If you leave both your pets and financial resources to one person, they might get rid of your pet and then spend those assets on themselves. In a pet trust, you eliminate the financial incentive for abandoning the animal by limiting someone’s access to those assets for the duration of the animal’s life.
You can choose what to do with those assets after the pet dies naturally or undergoes euthanasia because of a terminal or painful medical condition. Giving those assets to charity or even leaving them to a local park to have a bench erected in your companion animal’s memory are just two ideas that can expand your legacy even further.