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How To Protect Your Pet

Your pet is family, so protect them for life. Here’s how you can do that with an estate plan.

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Have a plan

The point of having a trust for your pet is so you have a formal plan and legal documentation of how you want your pet to be cared for even after you're gone. It also allows you to allocate financial resources to ensure whoever you designate to take care of your pet is able to do so. Putting these wishes in a formal document means that your wishes are known, and money is set aside from your assets specifically for your pet’s care. If you opt to not go with a trust, you’re putting your pet’s future in someone else’s hands. Only you can decide if you’re comfortable with that. 

Be as specific or general as you want 

Your trust can be as flexible or as rigid as you’d like– meaning you can name specific pets  and update your plan if you get another, or if a pet predeceases you; or you can just say “pets” and keep it general. It’s all up to you. 

What is the amount of money you will be leaving to the pet trust from your estate? 

A formal trust lets you earmark money from your estate specifically for pet care. You can choose as little or as much as you’d like, and it’s legally binding. 

Who will be the pet trust trustee?

A trustee is a person you appoint who ensures that your trust is executed on your behalf for your pet(s).  We recommend that you designate an alternate trustee of the trust as a backup.

Who will be the caretaker? 

Who do you want to take care of your pet(s) after you’re gone, or incapacitated? We suggest having a straightforward conversation now, to avoid any gray areas later. 

Should you provide compensation to your pet’s caretaker? 

It’s up to you and how much you have for your trust, however, it is something you can specify in the trust.  

Who will be the remainder beneficiary of the pet trust? 

In other words, when the pets pass away, who will receive any funds that remain in the pet trust account? Or, in the alternative, you may want to designate a charity as the remainder beneficiary of your pet trust.

No one likes to think about what happens when we’re gone, but knowing the ones you love most are protected for their life is a gift you can give your pets, and your loved ones.  In as little as 20 minutes you can have a pet trust that is valid in all 50 states in America, that protects you and your pets for life.

About the author

MyAdvocate Team

This post was written by MyAdvocate's team of estate planning attorneys.