There is no denying that Americans love their pets. In fact, our supermarkets have an entire aisle dedicated to them. If you take a visit to your local pet store, you can even nd bones that cost upwards of $50.00. According to the 2015-2016 National Pet Owners Survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association, approximately 79.7 million families own a pet. In 2015, it was estimated that we spent $60.5 billion dollars on pet care. While your pet enjoys being spoiled with treats and toys, it is also important to consider what will happen to your pet in the event the pet outlives you. Many people do not consider what will happen to their pets when they die, and, unfortunately, if there is no plan, the pet could end up being put in a shelter, or even worse, euthanized. Even if a close friend or family member has the best intentions of taking care of your pet in the event you die or become incapacitated, circumstances may change and they may no longer be able to care for the pet the way you would have.
What is a Pet Trust?
A pet trust is an enforceable mechanism in which you can designate your intent for the pet and it allows protection for your animal when you pass. Pet trusts are becoming more common and states are beginning to tailor their laws to provide more security for animals. More specifically, in New Jersey, as of July 2016, we have expanded the coverage of pet trusts to permit pet owners to create trusts which last through the lifetime of the animal. Previously, a pet trust could last no longer than twenty-one years. This posed great challenges for some pet owners where their pet’s life expectancy exceeded the twenty-one year limit. As a result of the recent legislation, owners can be at ease that their pet will be taken care of throughout the pet’s entire life.
Benefits of a Pet Trust
There are many bene ts to creating a pet trust. A pet trust allows the owner to designate caretakers for their pet when they are no longer able to care for the animal. In the event your primary caretaker is unable or unwilling to care for the pet, you can list alternative caretakers. This provides more security than asking your Aunt Sue to watch over Sparky when you die.
Another bene t of having a pet trust is that you can specify how you want your pet cared for when you die. For example, you can designate the pet’s diet and grooming care. You may also lay out decisions regarding end of life treatment for your pet. For pet owners with animals that have higher maintenance fees, such as horse owners, a pet trust can be very beneficial because you can provide for specific costs such as stall fees.
Within reason, you are able to designate how much money should be spent on the pet monthly and set aside money for medical emergencies. A word of caution is that a pet trust can be challenged by family members in situations where an
excessive amount of funds are held in the trust. It is important to consult with your trust and estate attorney to determine your wishes for your pet and to ensure that all of your pet’s needs are met.