Have a pet? Consider a pet trust in your estate plan

If you are like many other residents in Charlotte, an animal is an important member of your family. Just like any member of the family, your pet needs to be cared for, and you may want to ensure this happens by creating a pet trust.

A pet trust is an estate planning tool that allows pet owners to set aside assets for the benefit of their pet. However, setting up a pet trust isn't the same as leaving your assets to your beloved companion. Rather, it is a way to ensure your pet is cared for in the manner you wish when you cannot provide care yourself.

As noted in this ASPCA article, you can fund a pet trust so that there is money available for specific purposes. These purposes might include:

  • Preferred brand of food and treats
  • Trips to your pet's favorite parks
  • Grooming allowances
  • Caretaker reimbursement for various expenses incurred
  • Boarding expenses, if necessary
  • Veterinarian visits
  • Medication or surgery that becomes necessary
  • Burial and memorial expenses upon the death of the animal

Your trust can be as vague or specific as you wish, but it is important that you ensure the trust is properly set up and funded. Failure to do this could mean that the courts ultimately make decisions regarding the care of your pet, which you likely want to avoid.

Pets are important family members, and they need care just like anyone else if you become incapacitated or pass away. Without a plan in place, it can be very difficult for family members and loved ones to decide how to care for your pets. Further, without financial support, people may not be able to take on the responsibility of owning a pet.

To ensure your pet is properly cared for and to keep your loved ones from having to take on a burden they weren't prepared for, you can work with an attorney to create a pet trust as part of your estate plan.

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