Who will take care of your pets when you’re gone?

Canton, OH estate planning attorneyWhen most people go through the estate planning process, they try to account as best they can for their children, grandchildren, and close friends.

But what about another close member of the family, the furry one that is always begging for your attention?

With a pet trust, you can leave money to be used for the care of your dog or other pet. You simply put someone in charge of managing and spending money, as they follow a written set of instructions that you had previously provided.

Ohio, along with many states, now allows for trusts for animals without a human beneficiary.

A recent article from Nolo discusses pet trusts and how to set up them up legally.

In most states, you can create a trust to provide for the care of your animals alive during your lifetime. The trust ends when the last remaining pet dies. You cannot set a trust up to last indefinitely, like for future offspring of your current pet.

Regardless of whether you set up a trust, an important decision is choosing a caretaker for your animal. This person will gain custody of your pet and assume day-to-day care. Always be sure to ask them before naming them the caretaker, as well—some people don’t like pets or aren’t comfortable with the responsibility.

When estate planning for your pet, make an estimate of how much the caretaker will need to care for your animal. This obviously varies greatly with the species, age, breed, and health of your animal.

Pet trusts often give very detailed instructions for the caregiver. They should be very clear, since the animal can’t speak for itself. Food of preference, favorite toys, and sleeping arrangements should all be included.

You also will need to name someone to go to court and enforce the terms of the trust, if necessary. (If the caregiver isn’t spending the trust money appropriately, for example.)

It is also a good idea to state what is to be done with the trust money if the animal dies before the money runs out.

Another feature of a pet trust is that it can take effect before your death, if you were to become incapacitated and unable to care for your pet. The caregiver could immediately take custody of your pets if needed.

If you have any questions about a pet trust or estate planning in general, contact an experienced estate planning attorney.

About David Ferrell

For over 30 years, David B. Ferrell has practiced excellence in the areas of probate, estate planning, DUI, and divorce law. David Ferrell is dedicated to providing each client with personal service, trustworthy advice, and expert representation. David B. Ferrell's Google+ Profile

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