The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals ( ASPCA) is another invaluable site to reference estate planning needs for your pet.
Kim Bressant-Kibwe, Esq. the ASPCA Trusts & Estates Counsel offers assistance to attorneys, financial advisers and executors on all aspects of planning.
Ms. Bressant-Kibwe writes,
“…A pet trust is a legally sanctioned arrangement that provides for the care and maintenance of one or more pets in the event of their owner’s disability or death. The person who creates the trust is commonly referred to as the ‘settlor’. The person who is entrusted with the funds is called the ‘trustee’. A trust can take effect either during a person’s lifetime or after their death. Typically, a trustee will hold property (cash, for example) “in trust” for the settlor’s pet or pets. When the time comes, the trustee will make payments on a regular basis to a designated caregiver. In some states, the trust may continue for the rest of the animal’s life or for 21 years, whichever comes first. Other states allow a pet trust to continue for the rest of the animal’s life without regard to the 21-year limitation. This is especially advantageous when planning for companion animals such as horses and parrots, who have longer life expectancies than cats and dogs.”
She suggests that you contact your attorney to discuss the needs and future estate plans for your pets to establish a pet trust.
Additional areas of concern that she notes that you, your family and your attorney need to consider include;
The appointment of the trustee and successor;
The appointment of the caretaker and successor;
The need to adequately identify your pets in order to prevent fraud;
A description of your pet’s standard of living and care in detail;
A requirement that the trustee ensures the caregiver is providing the pet with regular, thorough veterinary check-ups;
The need to determine the amount of cash or assets needed to adequately cover the expenses for your pet’s care;
The need to determine the amount of cash or assets needed to adequately cover the expenses of administering the pet trust;
Choosing a beneficiary who will receive any remaining funds that were not used by the pet trust; and
Providing directions for your pet’s burial or cremation.
The ASPCA is on one of the many valuable sources of information available to the public regarding the estate planning process for your pets.
If your advisers need assistance or direction, you can help show them the way.
Be proactive in your life. Make your choices, plan and then proceed,