Today's show is my favorite subject - Estate Planning for Pets! It's the reason I wrote "All My Children Wear Fur Coats" and the reason I founded Animal Care Trust USA, Inc. It's also the reason every Monday I feature another guest that brings value to the world of Loved Pets.
Estate Planning for Pets is not new - it's been around since the 1990's. All 50 states and the District of Columbia have now adopted Pet Trust Statutes. That means that Pet Trusts are legal in every state. A Pet Trust is a trust where a Loved Pet is the primary beneficiary, rather than a person. It means our Loved Pets can be protected for life.
If you are ready to plan for your Loved Pets, the first thing to do is determine who will be your Pet Caregiver. This could be a person or an organization. If you don't have anyone, that's where Animal Care Trust USA and our Forever Program can help. You need at least two Pet Caregivers - a primary and a backup. Ideally, you'll have three with a perpetual care organization as one of your choices - organizations are a lot more likely to be around for the lifetime care of your Loved Pet than a person.
Next, create a notebook for each Loved Pet detailing all of the care requirements for your Loved Pet. Include all of their personal history as well as their medical history and their unique qualities. Think of this like "babysitter instructions" for a minor child you are leaving for the first time with a babysitter and you won't be available for questions.
Now you are ready to incorporate these instructions into your Pet Trust. I prefer a stand alone Pet Trust rather than one that's included in a Revocable Living Trust or a Will. A stand alone Pet Trust will be specific just for the care of your Loved Pets. A Pet Trust in a Revocable Living Trust is another option. However, the Pet Trust won't be funded until after your disability or death. Pet Trusts as part of a Last Will are not recommended as they may be subject to the delays of probate.
In addition to your Pet Caregivers, you'll also need to nominate a Pet Trustee. This can be a person or an organization. Most trust organizations are not set up to provide lifetime oversight for Loved Pets. That's why Animal Care Trust USA was created - to be the Nation's premier Pet Trustee. If you choose an individual, make sure it's someone that has financial experience and will have your Loved Pets best interests at heart. It is not recommended to choose the same person as the Pet Caregiver as this may create a conflict of interest.
You may also want to consider a Pet Care Panel - a couple of people you trust, which could include your veterinarian, to provide an additional level of oversight for both your Pet Caregiver and Pet Trustee. A Pet Care Panel is not required, just something to consider when crafting your Pet Trust Plan.
If you need help creating a Pet Trust Plan for your Loved Pet, reach out to us today! Animal Care Trust USA's mission is to keep Loved Pets in Loving Homes. We need you - Give, Volunteer, Plan. You can also reach out to me personally at Peggy@HoytBryan.com.
Peggy R. Hoyt, Founder/CEO