Pet trusts and pet protection agreements have become increasingly popular in recent years as elderly pet owners are looking for ways to ensure their pets will be well cared for when they’re no longer able to do the caring.
Here’s how they work, along with some tips and tools that can help you create one.
A pet trust is a legal instrument that allows you to designate a specific amount of money for your pet’s care and name a trustee to carry out your wishes. Nearly all states – including Oklahoma – have laws that allow pet trust but they can expensive costing anywhere from $500 to $1,500.
If you want to set up a pet trust, talk to an estate-planning attorney, or, you can make one online through a do-it-yourself resource like peaceofmindpettrust.com. Some factors you’ll need to consider before setting up a pet trust include:
- The trustee and caretaker: Most pet trusts designate both a trustee to manage the money and a caretaker to handle the day-to-day care of the pet. The trustee can make sure the caregiver is doing what they’re supposed to do. It’s also a good idea to name an alternate trustee and caregiver in case your first choice is unable or unwilling to serve.
- Caregiving details: With a traditional trust, you can specify the things you want your pets to receive like their favorite foods, how often they should be taken to the vet, their burial arrangements, etc.
- Funding the trust: You can set aside money from your estate to cover the costs, or if you’re short on funds, another option is to buy or use an existing life insurance policy and name the trustee as the beneficiary.
Another legal option to consider is a “pet protection agreement,” which is much less complex than a formal pet trust. This allows you to name a guardian to take care of your pets, and gives you the ability to leave funds to care for them. You can make a pet protection agreement online at legalzoom.com (800-962-7490) for $39.
If, however, you don’t want to create a legal tool, you should make informal arrangements by asking a trusted friend or relative to take care of your pets if something happens to you. In addition, you could set up a separate bank account to cover expenses and name the caretaker as the beneficiary.
Or, if you don’t have anyone who would be willing to take care of your pets after you’re gone, you can make arrangements to leave it to a rescue, humane society, pet care program or other animal welfare group. Many of these organizations find new homes for pets or offer lifetime care, but may require a fee or donation. Talk to your veterinarian about options in your area.
By: Jim Miller for Savvy Seniors