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More people are adding pet trusts to their estate plans

| Jul 1, 2018 | Estate Planning

Caring for a pet is a big responsibility. Many households in Colorado devote a great deal of time and money to providing for the well-being of their animals. Whether they raise them from birth or adopt them full-grown from shelters, pet owners often incorporate their animals into their homes as members of their families. This is why more pet owners are adding pet trusts to their estate plans.

Sadly, many beloved animals spend their remaining days in shelters following the deaths of their owners. This happens when the owner does not make clear arrangements for their continued care or simply mentions their pets in a will. By designating a caregiver in a will, a pet owner does not leave a secure future in place for the pet since there is no law binding an heir to accept or keep an inheritance.

On the other hand, a pet trust designates a caregiver, provides clear instructions for the care of the animal and allots funds for specific uses for the pet. A trustee oversees the management and the distribution of the funds in the trust. A well-funded trust can provide for veterinary services, grooming, food and treats, as well as guidelines for the pet’s care as specific as the pet owner wants to make them. The trust may also give instructions for what to do at the end of a pet’s life.

Pet trusts also have advantages over a will because they do not have to go through probate, which means providing a seamless transition for the animal after the death of its owner. A trust can also include provisions in case the owner becomes incapacitated or must enter long-term care where pets are not allowed. Since the estate planning laws in Colorado may have their own peculiarities regarding pet trusts, it is best to have the guidance of an experienced attorney throughout the process of creating one.