It is increasingly common for pet owners to make provisions in their wills to provide ongoing care of their furry companions in the event they pass away or become unable to do so on their own. Moreover, all U.S. states and the District of Columbia allow their residents to establish pet trusts and set aside assets specifically for this purpose.
Planning for your pets’ perpetual financial and physical care can be simple. Still, it is a process best undertaken with the assistance of your professional advisors to ensure your pet’s unique needs 2and your explicit wishes. For example, you may specify in your will the person or organization you wish to take physical custody of your pet and the responsibility you expect them to follow to manage your pet’s day-to-day care. What if you cannot identify a friend or family member to take on this responsibility? Consider placing your pet with a private animal sanctuary or one of the many organizations dedicated to helping pets find forever homes.
To set up a trust for your four-legged friends, first consider who you can rely on to manage the trust assets and ensure distributions are made promptly for your pet’s benefit. The person you name as trustee may be a friend or family member, a professional advisor or a trust company with experience in these matters. You may include in the terms of the trust document specific instructions you expect your pet’s designated caregivers to follow, including the brand of food to feed the pet, the toys they should purchase and your explicit directions for keeping the pet properly groomed. Additionally, you may assign the trustee the responsibility to ensure that named caregivers use trust distributions for your intended purposes.
When funding the trust, it is essential to consider the current expenses required to care for your pets, the impact of rising inflation and the additional medical care they may need as they age. Further consideration should be given to the administrative fees the trust will pay to the trustee on an annual basis in return for carrying out the terms of the trust. As you plan to leave assets behind for the care of your pet, you should also consider what happens to those assets when your pet passes away. You may name family members as beneficiaries of your pets’ trusts, or you may choose to leave any remaining trust assets to charitable organizations, including those whose mission is to rescue and care for neglected and abandoned animals.
While you may not be able to leave your pet with a multi-million trust fund, it is important to consider how your four-legged family members will be cared for and by whom when you can longer do so.
About the Author: Robert Mark Weiss, CFA, is a regional director and financial planner with Provenance Wealth Advisors (PWA), an Independent Registered Investment Advisor affiliated with Berkowitz Pollack Brant Advisors + CPAs and a registered representative with PWA Securities, LLC. For more information, call (941) 308-1126 or email email@example.com.
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Updated on 10/16/2023