ElderLaw News — The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C. — MD, VA, DC
ElderLaw News

ElderLaw News is a weekly e-newsletter that brings you reports of legal developments and other trends of vital interest to seniors and their advocates. This newsletter is brought to you by The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C., William S. Fralin, Esq., President., William S. Fralin, Esq., President.

What Are Pet Trusts?

Pet trusts are trusts specifically designed to care for a pet when his or her owner dies.

In some states, the trust continues for the length of the animal's life or for 21 years, whichever comes first. In other states, it continues for as long as the animal lives, which is really the best system since pets such as horses and parrots can live for a very long time. Unfortunately, there are some states in which pet trusts are not valid at all, and some in which enforcement is discretionary.  For a list of all the states and their pet trust status, go to the website at www.aspca.org and search for the Pet Trust State Law Chart.

Set up a pet trust with an attorney who specializes in estate planning.  Before going to the attorney, you will need to think about who you would like to serve as the trustee of the trust as well as the pet's future caregiver. You will also need to designate a successor trustee and a successor caregiver, in the event the first people you entrust with your pet’s future are unable to serve in that capacity. 

Keep in mind that one way to design the trust is to have the trust cover any pets you may have during your lifetime, rather than create a separate trust for each of your pets.

Things to specify in the trust are: 

1) the level of care that you wish to have for your pet. For instance, you may give details about their food and what type of living conditions they are used to;

2) yearly veterinary exams;

3) specify how much and how frequently the trust funds will be distributed to the caregiver;

4) the amount in the pet trust fund should cover the pet's care as well as a little extra to cover the administrative costs of the trust;

5) name a beneficiary to receive any money that is not used by the pet trust; and

6) specify how you want your pet's burial or cremation carried out.

There are a lot of things to consider when you are ensuring your pet's future. I hope this information is helpful! It may be something you’ve never thought about before, but your pets are definitely worth it!.

(Information taken from Pet Trust Primer, Kim Bressant-Kibwe, Esq., www.aspca.org, 12-19-12)

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The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C. is an elder law firm. We represent older persons, disabled persons, their families, and their advocates. The practice of elder law includes estate planning, estate and trust administration, powers of attorney, advance medical directives, titling of assets and designations of beneficiaries, guardianships, conservatorships, and public entitlements such as Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, and SSI, disability planning, income tax planning and preparation, care management, and fiduciary services. For more information about The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C., please visit our website at http://www.chroniccareadvocacy.com.

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