The Family Pet – Have You Taken Care of Their Future With a Pet Trust?
Arnold Schwarzenegger, the previous Governor of California, signed Code 15212 into law and it is now part of the California Probate Code.
This law makes it easier to create an enforceable Pet Trust. A Pet Trust is created in order to insure your pet is cared for in the event of your death or if you become incapacitated.
The Pet Trust will terminate at the end of your pet’s life, since all assets which you have placed in the Pet Trust are designated to be used only for the care of the pet. Your trustee will be prohibited from using the assets or income, for anything other than the care of your pet.
Code 15212 has strong provisions for the enforcement of a Pet Trust. A Pet Trust is created in a similar way to a Revocable Living Trust.
The pet’s owner should outline the following issues in the Pet Trust:
Who is the trustee of the trust?
This is the person who places the money into the pet’s account for the pet’s care.
Who will your pet live with?
This designates the person who will care for your pet and is known as the pet caregiver. If you do not have a person you can designate, then consider a non-profit charity, which is set up to provide this service. The trustee should be given the discretion to remove the pet caregiver, if the pet caregiver is not providing proper and adequate care for your pet.
The pet owner should decide on the amount of money to be placed in the Pet Trust
The amount should reflect the costs associated with the care of the pet for its life. You may also want to consider pet insurance for medical issues for the life of the pet.
A Pet Trust should specifically outline the amount of money to be placed in the Pet Trust account by the trustee.
The caregiver and the trustee should not be the same people, unless they are well know by the pet owner.
The pet owner should have a way that clearly identifies the owner’s pet.
This prevents a substitute pet being used. The owner should also require that the pet be examined annually, to ensure the pet is being properly cared for. The veterinarian should send all reports to the trustee on an annual basis to ensure the pet is alive and healthy.
Today, our pets are considered to be a family member. Having a plan in place for the well being of your pet after your death or if you become incapacitated, is an important part of estate planning. At the Estate Planning Legal Center, APC we want to stress that planning for your pet is an important part of loving your family member.