Wills are administered by the courts and do not take effect until validated by the court. If contested, wills do not take effect until the disputes are resolved. If your will contains a testamentary pet trust, the care of your pets could be postponed until the will is validated and the disputes are resolved by the court. However, living pet trusts do not fall under the jurisdiction of the courts and take effect immediately, therefore the care and feeding of your pet will continue without interruption if you become incapacitated or you pass away.

What Are the Rules?

A pet trust is a legal document that any pet owner can use to provide for the pet in the event that he or she becomes disabled and unable to care for the pet, or dies. The pet trust can be created while you are alive (a living trust) or as a trust that will kick in once you die (a testamentary trust). Currently, 46 states and Washington, D.C. count pets as living property and allow an allowance of assets in the form of a pet trust. The four states that do not have a specific provision (Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota and Mississippi) do still respect pet beneficiaries.

In the pet trust, you can name a trustee to administer the funds for your pet and can name the person who should take in and care for your pets.

In general, most pet owners provide funding to take care of every aspect of the needs of all of their pets (food, housing, etc.). However, depending on your preference, you could spell out provisions for each pet individually to restrict the funding to be provided, for medical care only, for example.

What Should You Leave?

In general, we suggest researching the average lifespan of each of your pets. Project how long each of your pets will live and create an estimate of care based on what you spend. How much does food cost? How many toys do you purchase in a month? You should also factor in the costs of medical care, keeping in mind that medical care costs often increase dramatically as pets age.

Consult your Advisor for Pet Trust Advice

If you have any concerns about the planning or distribution of your estate, from filing your personal Federal Taxes to developing estate plans, you should contact Miles Tax Advisory. You can trust our expertise and years of experience to help you maximize your wealth and take care of every member of your family now and in the future, and we’ll always give you the individual attention you need.