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3 reasons that many people decide to create pet trusts

Adults engaged in estate planning often focus primarily on the legacy they hope to create or meeting the needs of their family members. Occasionally, testators have unique situations that require careful consideration.

For example, someone who owns a pet may decide to plan for the pet’s comfort and protection in the event of their death. A pet trust is a useful tool for those worried about what may become of a companion animal after their passing. The following scenarios often motivate individuals to create a trust specifically for the protection of a pet.

The acquisition of a long-lived animal

Dogs and cats live relatively short lives. Some cats may live 20 years or even longer, but many die in their teens. Dogs may live vastly different lifespans depending on their breed, but most live well under 20 years. Other pets may live for decades and might even outlive their owners. Horses, tortoises, snakes and parrots can easily outlive their human owners. Someone who takes in a pet knowing that the animal could easily outlive them may need to think about the animal’s long-term care.

A concerning medical diagnosis

Some people begin estate planning because health issues force them to confront their own mortality. Cancer or progressive illnesses may lead people to prepare for the worst. The preparation process might include creating a trust to ensure the care and comfort of their companion animal should they succumb to their health challenges while their pet is still alive.

Concerns about loved ones’ intentions

Perhaps someone knows that all of their children live pet-free lives. Maybe they worry that one child might agree to take care of the animal because of the resources provided for the pet in an estate plan. Once someone assumes control over the animal and the inheritance allocated for its care, they could surrender the pet to a shelter or arrange for its euthanization. When family members seem uninterested in caring for animals or when people worry about the misuse of resources intended for the support of a pet, a trust can be a way to ensure that whoever takes care of the animal puts its needs first.

Estate planning often forces people to think about emotional matters and practical concerns simultaneously. People who understand common estate planning pitfalls, like the mistake of leaving an inheritance to a pet, may have an easier time creating effective estate plans.

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