Did you know that estate planning can protect a lot more than your human family? Your four-legged furry family members can also be covered and cared for specifically by your estate. Many people have specific plans and wishes for their pets after they pass away, from making sure they get adequate veterinary care, to ensuring they aren’t separated or kept in pens.
The way to do this is with a pet trust. Pet trusts are a means by which you can ensure that there are assets set aside to cover your pet’s needs after you die. Just like any trust, however, they have to be set up properly with the right considerations. Learn about pet trusts, what they are, how they work to protect your pets, and what you need to do, to ensure they’re set up properly from the start.
About Pet Trusts
A pet trust is a kind of living trust, or revocable trust, that establishes assets to be set aside to care for your pets when you are deceased. You set up a trustee who takes control of the assets placed into the trust, and who hires a caregiver, which may be named as part of the trust establishment.
This caregiver may be the pet’s veterinarian, if they are willing to serve, but the trustee is not required to use a veterinarian; they have authority to use their best judgment regarding what makes the most sense. To this end, however, that extends to what is best for the animal—that is, if the trustee doesn’t feel the caregiver is doing their job, the animals can be removed from their care.
Modifying a Pet Trust
Since a pet trust is a living trust, also known as a revocable trust, you can modify and change it as you see fit at any time, even canceling it entirely. You can also set it up so that after you die, it becomes irrevocable immediately, thus protecting the assets against seizure by creditors, probate courts, or any other liens or liability.
As a trust, the information regarding assets and documentation regarding trustees, beneficiaries, caregivers and the like does not become public record. This ensures that the privacy of your wishes is also maintained.
When the Pet Dies
Your trust terminates when the pet passes away. At this time, the remaining assets within the trust will be distributed to any remaining human beneficiaries who are eligible to receive it.
The Validity of Pet Trusts
Fortunately, while most states accept the validity of pet trusts, in Montana there are specific statutes recognizing these kinds of trusts. If you’re wondering about pet trusts and how you can be sure your pet will be protected, you are expressly permitted under the law to create a pet trust in Montana and have it seen as valid by courts.
Setting up Your Pet Trust
If you’re in Montana and you’d like to set up a pet trust to care for your four-legged family members, or you just want more information about pet trusts, Tanko Law can help. Give us a call for a free consultation today.