A Trust for Fido? How to Care For Pets After Death

Americans love their pets as if they were family members.

In fact, Americans to set up pet-related trusts in 46 states.

If you want to care for your pet after death here are four strategies to consider.

Designate a caregiver

Contact a family member or friend and ask them if they would become the designated caregiver for your pet after your death.

There may be several people in your life willing to adopt your pet after your passing.

Your designated caregiver should be a pet lover and someone you trust with your pet.

You can also assign and finance a designated caregiver for your pet in a will or trust.

Legal will

A will is a legal document that expresses in writing the final wishes of a deceased person. The posthumous wishes and desires of the deceased will be coordinated and executed by a caretaker appointed before death.

You can direct a caretaker to bequeath a percentage of your estate to be used for caring for your pet. Make the will as specific as possible.

For example, you can direct the caretaker to use specific amounts of money from your estate to appoint and finance a designated caregiver to care for your pet for the entirety of its life.

A will can have some drawbacks.

Essentially, wills are a legalized form of the honor system. A caretaker is legally required to assume your finances as directed by your will. After that, the caretaker can execute your will as they see fit.

Additionally, any family member, friend, business partner, or acquaintance not named in the will can contest the will in probate court.

Pet trust

A trust is a legal and fiduciary relationship where you, the trustor, give another person or legal entity, the trustee, the legal authority to hold, access, and execute the distribution of assets, property, or overall estate.

Unlike a will, the trustee is legally bound to execute the wishes of the trustee to the letter.

There are two kinds of trusts, a revocable and irrevocable trust. A revocable trust can be altered as much as you want or canceled within your lifetime. An irrevocable trust can’t be changed once initiated.

Depending on local laws, you may be able to incorporate a pet trust into a revocable trust or create an entirely separate pet trust.

Posthumous legacy arrangements

If you can’t locate a designated caretaker, you can contact local animal advocacy groups to inquire if they will take care of your pet after your passing.

In such legacy arrangements, an organization may adopt your pet or help find a new owner.

You can contact organizations in this endeavor such as:

  • Animal rescue groups
  • Veterinary schools
  • Animal retirement homes
  • Animal sanctuary organizations

You may have to pay or offer a donation for organizations to take on a legacy arrangement.

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