Countless times, we have implored you to take the time to address your estate planning needs. We have pointed out the many benefits, the consequences for not planning, how it is a gift to your family and so on. Still, people tend to put it off because it isn’t pleasant and viewed as an added expense. Addressing one’s mortality can also be difficult. Planning for all members of your family means that your pets should be part of your estate plan.
Your pet is part of your family!
Our Director of Business Development, Kim Lewis, encountered years of excuses and procrastination from her sister, Kathy. Kathy is a single, career woman without children. Her one true love is her black lab, Levi. After a decade of pleading, Kim finally convinced Kathy of the importance of estate planning to protect Levi and a pet trust was an important part of the plan. Kathy recognized Levi’s needs would need to be addressed when she passes. Her love for Levi was the motivation Kathy needed to finally take action. She now has a full estate plan, including a pet trust.
Kathy is not alone with her immense love and protection of her pet. A new survey found, one in two owners say pets are just as important as human members of their family. We believe the use of pet trusts will continue to rise.
What are the benefits of a pet trust?
The benefits of a pet trust go beyond the practical. It allows you (the settlor), to select a person (the trustee) to manage the funds and supervise the care for your pet (statutory beneficiary). In most cases the trustee is the caregiver for the pet, but in some cases it’s another individual or organization. Another critically important role is who will enforce the trust. This should be someone named in the trust who is not the trustee. If the trust does not name an enforcer, the court can appoint one. Of course, there needs to be backups named for all the positions.
Pet trusts are a relatively new area of estate planning so working with a qualified attorney is critical.
They were created by statute in Georgia in 2010. Why was it necessary to create a special statute? Because at common law, a non-human cannot be a beneficiary. The pet must be living during the settler’s lifetime.
An attorney will make sure that your trust specifically states how funds will be distributed if any are left over after your death. They will help you identify suitable backups for all positions whether they be family, friends, or independent organizations.
Your attorney will help you evaluate your finances, your pet, and the anticipated level of care they require to help you determine how much money you will need to fund your pet trust. If your pet is a 14-year-old cat, you may need to designate less than you would if you have two young pups.
Are you aging alone and worried about what will happen to your pet?
We ask our clients to complete comprehensive information regarding their pets. We have assisted our clients in various ways including helping them identify long-term care facilities that allow pets, to rehoming pets after our clients have passed.
Planning for your pets allows you to ensure your best friend has appropriate care and a quality life throughout your pet’s natural life. Learn more about Hurley Elder Care Law and our approach to pet trusts by calling us at 404-843-0121
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