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No, we don’t mean that your four-legged friend will stand to inherit some of your estate. But you may not have considered what will happen to Fido or Fluffy should you become incapacitated or pass away. At East Valley Animal Hospital in Gilbert, AZ, we know that pets make excellent companions in the later years of life, especially if you find yourself living alone. Just as you would prepare a living trust or will for your remaining family members to be provided for, you can also do so for your pets through a pet trust.
What is a Pet Trust?
Although you may think of your pet as a part of the family, by law they are treated as tangible personal property. In a typical living trust, you would leave instructions for the transfer of your house, car and other assets to family members or friends. In a pet trust, you are able to legally specify your desires for the ongoing care of your beloved family pet after you’ve passed away or become incapacitated.
A pet trust will set aside funds from your estate for your pet’s annual vet checkups, for their food supply, and for other aspects of their care. Your pet trust can even specify your pet’s veterinarian, exercise regime and what brand of food they should be fed.
As with a living trust, a pet trust is in effect while you’re alive, as well as after your death. It covers your pet’s care in the event that you become incapacitated or pass away. Regarding incapacitation, should you need to move into a retirement community or long-term care facility, you can also specify in your pet trust that you want your pet to go with you.
A Pet Living Will vs. A Trust
But which is better, a will or a trust? Since a will distributes funds in a lump sum, it’s not guaranteed that the designated funds will be used to care for your pet. After you’re gone, it’s entirely possible a friend or family member could decide your pet shouldn’t receive the financial allocations you’ve established for its care.
On the other hand, the funds of a trust can legally be set aside for specific purposes and distributed over a period of time, making it a much better option for your furry companion’s ongoing care. Clear guidelines written in your pet trust can determine who will take care of your pet, how your pet should be cared for, and when funds for their care are to be distributed. Setting up these details in a pet trust can help avoid messy and divisive litigation, and protect your pet’s future wellbeing.
Proper Identification of Your Pet
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) gives a thorough outline of what you can do to make sure your pet is legally tied to your pet trust. One wise piece of advice is to make sure your pet is properly identified (i.e.by microchip technology, DNA samples, photos, etc.) in order to avoid fraudulent deception by other parties.
In addition, the ASPCA mentions taking the time to delineate what you would like to happen with your pet’s remains when they die, and who should receive any remaining assets when your pet no longer needs them.
As a compassionate pet clinic, East Valley Animal Hospital cares about our furry clients’ wellbeing throughout their lifespans. If you’re looking for experienced veterinarians in Gilbert, give us a call. We’ll treat your pets like family!