How to Ensure Your Pets are Cared for After You’re Gone

Pet trusts have become more and more popular over the years as senior pet owners are looking for ways to ensure their pets will be well cared for when they’re not longer able to do the caring.

Here are sine tips to help you get stated.

Types of Trusts

A pet trust is a legal instrument that allows you to designate a specific amount of money for your pet’s care and name a trustee to carry out your wishes. There are two main types of trusts you can set up. One option is a “traditional pet trust.” This type is effective in all states and is similar to a trust you would set up for a child, but it’s expensive. It costs anywhere from $500 to $1500to create.

You could opt for a “statutory pet trust,” which is a much cheaper option and is currently allowed in the state of Tennessee.

If you want to set up a pet trust, talk to an estate planning attorney who has experience with pet trusts. Alternatively, you can work with a company like Peace of Mind Pet Trust (peaceofmindpettrust.com) or Trusted Pet Partners (tustedpetpartners.com). Some factors you’ll need to consider before setting up a pet trust include:

The Trustee and Caretaker: Most pet trusts designate both a trustee t manage the money and a caretaker to handle the day to day care of the pet. The trustee can make sure the caregiver is doing what they’re supposed to do. It’s also a good idea to name an alternate trustee and caregiver in case your first choice is unable or unwilling to serve.Caregiving Details: With a traditional trust, you can specify the things you want your pets to receive like their favorite foods, how often they should be taken to the vet, their burial arrangemetns, etc.

Funding the Trust: You can set aside money from your estate to cover the costs. If you’re short on funds, another options is to buy or use an existing life insurance policy and name the trustee as the beneficiary.

Other Options

Another legal option to consider is a “pet protection agreement,” which is much less complex than a formal pet trust. This allows you to name a guardian to take care of your pets and gives you’re the ability to leave funds to care for them.

If you don’t wnt to create a legal tool, your should make informal arrangements by asking a trusted friend or relative to take care of your pets if something happens to you. In addition, you could set up a separate bank account to cover expenses and name the caretaker as the beneficiary.

If you don’t have anyone who would be willing to take care of your pets after you’re gone, you can make arrangements to leave it to a rescue, humane society, pet care program or other animal welfare group. Many of these organizations find new homes for pets or offer lifetime care, but may require a fee or donation. Talk to your veterinarian about options in your area.

Jim Miller, author of the “Savvy Senior” Book shared this article with the United Methodist Foundation, March 2013

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