You may have read stories about very wealthy, high-profile individuals leaving lavish inheritances for the benefit of their pets. They are in rarefied positions and they may be a bit eccentric, but ordinary people do not have to consider pet planning, right?
If you are relatively young and you own a dog or a cat, it is very likely that you will outlive your pet, so you may never think about the subject. Many people know that family members will take care of their pets if a caregiver is needed, and this is another factor.
This is understandable, but there is another dimension that we address from time to time as estate planning attorneys.
Pet Ownership for Seniors
One of the biggest emotional challenges that older people face is a feeling of loneliness. When you are retired, you do not have regular interactions with your coworkers, and this limits social opportunities as well.
As the years pass, people move away, and your family members may live busy lives. You will inevitably lose some friends and relatives as you start to reach an advanced age, and at some point, you may be a widow or widower.
Under these circumstances, life can change for the better if you become a pet owner. If you have a dog, it will need walks, and this will give you an opportunity to get some exercise yourself. As you start to develop a routine, you may make acquaintances at the park or dog park.
Pets are entertaining, and you feel sense of purpose when you have a dependent of sorts that is relying on you for everything. Experts have found that pet ownership can measurably improve the mental and physical health of senior citizens.
All of this is easy to understand, but there is an inherent impediment. Longevity can definitely be a source of concern that will make you take pause before you adopt a pet.
The Ideal Solution
Fortunately, a pet trust can provide the ideal solution, and you do not have to fund it with hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars. To adopt this approach, you establish the trust and you name someone to act as the trustee, which is the trust administrator.
The trustee does not necessarily have to be the individual that will provide care for the pet. They will be legally compelled to make sure that the pet is cared for in the manner that you dictate in the trust declaration.
You can name someone that you know personally to act as the trustee of the pet trust, but this is not the only option. There are professional fiduciaries like trust companies and the trust departments of banks, and some other professional entities provide trustee services.
When you are drawing up the trust, you can be detailed with regard to the directions that you provide for the caretaker. If you die first, the trustee will spring into action and make sure that your wishes come to fruition.
You name a successor beneficiary in the trust agreement. After the death of the pet, this individual will assume ownership of assets that remain in the trust.
We Are Here to Help!
If you are interested in creating a pet trust, we can make it happen, and this would be just one component of a broader estate plan. The optimal overall approach will depend on the circumstances, and we will make sure that your plan is custom crafted to suit your needs.
You can schedule a consultation appointment at our Burbank, California estate planning office if you call us at (818) 937-2335. There is also a contact form on this site you can use to send us a message, and if you reach out electronically, you can expect to receive a prompt response.