Pet Trusts Lawyer
Our animal companions are there for us on good days and bad days--whenever we need them. We want to be there for them, too, but no one knows what the future holds. Emergencies can strike at any time.
With a pet trust as part of your own estate plan, you can be certain that your beloved animals will receive the care they need if something should happen to you. At Peach State Wills & Trusts, we set up pet trusts to ensure that these important members of the family will always have the support and attention and home life that they deserve.
The Value of a Pet Trust
Many people like to include provisions in their will to leave money for a beloved pet. However, this option may not provide the best protection for your animals.
In the first place, a will only takes effect when you pass away. If you become incapacitated due to an accident or illness, a trust can provide for your pet's care, while the will does not help them at all.
Additionally, you cannot leave money to your pet, so a bequest in your will must go to a human. The bequest will not legally obligate that person receiving the funds to provide the care you want your animal to have. In fact, the person receiving the money can do anything they want with those funds. To establish control over how the money is used, and provide a level of oversight and accountability, you need to set up a pet trust.
How a Pet Trust Operates
A trust is a legal entity set up to hold property for someone or for some purpose. The person who establishes the trust transfers property into the trust, and then the trust technically owns it. A trustee is designated to manage the property and distribute it to the beneficiary, or for the beneficiary's care, according to the terms in the trust documents. For instance, an education trust might specify that the trustee should use funds to pay tuition, room and board every semester of school. The beneficiary would be the student.
With a pet trust, the pet is the beneficiary. However, since the pet cannot spend money to buy food, pay for veterinary care, and so on, you will also need to designate a caregiver who will be in charge of the animal's daily care. It is also a good idea to designate an alternate caregiver and an alternate trustee in case the individuals you nominate originally are unable to fill those roles.
The trustee will manage the money while the caregiver provides for your pet. One person can serve both roles if desired, but if you have two separate people in the roles, you build in greater accountability.
This type of pet trust can easily be incorporated into your estate plan. It can be included in a will, as a type of testamentary trust (as opposed to an outright bequest or gift), or it can be part of a revocable living trust. When part of a revocable living trust, the pet trust provisions can be effective if you are alive but incapacitated and unable to care for your pets; with a will the pet trust provisions can only be effective following your death.
It is important to ensure that your pet trust complies with Georgia statutes for this type of trust. In addition, it is a good idea to include specific identifying information about your pet for the animal's protection. The experienced team at Peach State Wills & Trusts can help ensure that are requirements are fulfilled and that the trust covers potential needs in the future.
Protect Your Valuable Family Members with a Pet Trust
Shelters are full of animals left behind when the owners passed away or became unable to care for them. Often these animals are euthanized because family members and friends are not ready to take the pet.
When you protect your animal companion with a pet trust as part of your overall estate plan, you know your beloved friend will always have a caring home. Contact Peach State Wills & Trusts today to learn how we can help ensure your whole family is prepared for the future.