Pet Trusts

Have you ever wondered what happens to someone’s pet after they pass, or become incapacitated? Or maybe you’re curious what can happen to your pet if you ever go into a long term care facility? Well, below you will find information on what is known as a Pet Trust. Maybe this will help answer your questions or inform you as to options for your pet when planning your estate.

When someone unexpectedly passes, or become incapacitated and unable to care for their pet anymore, there is no guarantee that a family member or a friend will step up and take on that responsibility. According to an article named “And, to my dog, Fido, I leave…” by Jan Michelsen, Esq., 500,000-600,000 animals are orphaned every year and a lot of them end up in already overcrowded shelters.

Doesn’t sound like something that anyone would want for the pet or pets they spent years caring for and loving. Thankfully, the Indiana Code § 30-4-2-18, enacted in 2005, recognizes a thing called Pet Trusts.

Pets, in Indiana, are considered to be personal property. It is possible to make arrangements to leave your pets in good hands with everything they need to continue to lead a happy life. The following are a few facts about pet trusts that you need to know:

  1. This applies to death, incapacitation/long term facility care for the pet owner.
  2. Pet trusts apply to all types of pets, not just cats and dogs.
  3. A pet trust would help to eliminate a “custody dispute” if more than one person wishes to care for the pet.
  4. Pets cannot be heirs to an estate or life insurance policy beneficiary.
  5. A pet trust allows you to appoint a trustee or trustees to hold cash or property in trust for the benefit of your pet’s care, feeding, exercise, veterinarian care, and burial.

Do I still have your attention? I hope so. This next part is pretty important. This seems like a lot, I know, but now here is some information as the financial aspect of such a trust.

Trust funding: Where is the money coming from?

~        Bank account

~        Beneficiary of life insurance policy

~        Beneficiary of annuity, retirement account or your estate.

Amount: How much money should you have in a pet trust?

~        The amount of money put into a trust should not be unreasonably large, or beyond reasonably anticipated expenses and costs.

~        If so, heirs could contest the trust and a court could give some of the money to heirs.

I hope this post has given you some insight into what exactly a pet trust is and how they work. Now that you have some information, you are better equipped to make sure the other parts of your family can be cared for once you are gone. Interested in knowing more or setting up a pet trust for your pet? Contact our office and let us help you get started!

If you would like to listen to a podcast (Bark Talk with Bonnie) on this matter, please follow the link below to hear Leslie M. Mathewson chat with Bonnie Krupa of Advanced Canine Techniques.

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