Protecting Your Pets With A Pet Trust

Pets are an important part of our families. The American Animal Hospital Association estimates that nearly 80% of US households have at least one pet, and about 43% consider their pets to be members of the family. Pets provide unconditional love, companionship, and security for many people in this world who might otherwise be lonely or feel unsafe. They also encourage exercise and good health through regular walks outdoors. And they can bring joy into our lives by simply being there with us every day.

A pet trust is a legal arrangement that allows you to make sure your pet will be cared for, even after you die. The idea behind a pet trust is to provide food, veterinary care, and shelter for your pet for as long as they live. It also provides a way of making sure that your pet will not end up in an animal shelter if something happens to you.

How Does A Pet Trust Work?

Although laws around pet trusts vary state by state, under North Carolina law it is possible to include pets in your will. Pets are considered personal property in North Carolina, so you can specify who they go to in a normal will.  However, there are no legal provisions in a typical will that your wishes will be carried out if you only name a caregiver for your pet. To ensure your pets receive a specific standard of care after your passing, it is in your best interest to create a pet trust.

Since pets are not legally allowed to own property under North Carolina law (similar to a minor child), they can be left a trust. And just like a trust left for a minor, you can leave funds, appoint a caregiver, and name a trustee with a pet trust.

In addition, the person you name caregiver of your pet does not have to be the same individual you appoint to oversee and manage the money you leave on behalf of your pet.

Reasons to Create a Pet Trust 

There are a lot of reasons to create a pet trust – here are some of the most common:

  • You own a pet with a longer life expectancy than normal, such as a reptile, a bird, a turtle, or a horse, and want to ensure they are well taken care of long after your passing. 
  • You own multiple pets, and you want to ensure that they will not be separated. 
  • Your pet has special needs that require a considerable amount of money that you do not wish to burden your family or friends with as they care for your pet. 
  • You want to ensure that there are funds available for your pet to receive proper veterinary check-ups, grooming, and feeding. 
  • You have specific wishes regarding how your pet is taken care of throughout the rest of their days.
  • You have final wishes regarding the burial or cremation of your beloved pet.

What Can A Pet Trust Cover?

National estimates show that you can expect to spend thousands of dollars on your pet each year – and in some cases, tens of thousands if medical issues come up! To help care for your pets, some of the things funds in a pet trust could potentially cover include:

  • Any routine veterinary check-ups
  • Any emergency veterinary care
  • Any routine grooming costs 
  • Any feeding or dietary requirements 
  • Any toys, bedding, or housing needs 
  • Any boarding costs 

Questions To Consider About Your Pet Trust

When creating a pet trust, there are a lot of things to consider – some of the things you should think about in advance of meeting with an estate planning attorney include:

  • Who would you like to act as your pet’s caregiver?
  • Will your pet’s caregiver and the trustee be the same person?
  • Whether a successor trustee or caregiver is named in the case that your pet outlives the first-named caregiver or trustee. 
  • The level of care you expect your pet’s new caregiver to provide.
  • The financial amount you estimate the new caregiver will need to handle any pet-related expenses.
  • The current health condition of your pet. 
  • The life expectancy of your pet.
  • Where should any remaining money go if there are still funds in the trust after your pet’s passing? 

Contact Our Wilmington Estate Planning Attorney

Pet trusts can be complicated – with the help of an estate planning attorney, it will be easier for you to create a trust that works best for your needs and those of your pets.

An experienced estate planning lawyer like David Anderson will advise on how much money may need to go into the pet trust, as well as where any remaining funds should go if there are still funds in the trust after your pet’s passing.

To schedule a consultation to talk about your specific situation, call us today or fill out our online form!

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