“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”― Anatole France
What is a Pet Trust?
To animal lovers, our pets are part of our family. But under the law, they’re just property – virtually no different than a stuffed animal.
The good news is that Florida law allows us to use a Pet Trust to document our wishes regarding the care of our pets when we’re no longer able to care for them. And Florida courts will enforce the provisions of those Pet Trusts as long as they are “reasonable.”
Pet Trusts can be very individualized – perhaps you want the caretaker to receive payment only when another party verifies the pet’s well-being. Or perhaps you want to specify an animal rescue organization to receive your pet and your money. Cindy has created custom Pet Trusts that were as simple as leaving money and the pet to a rescue organization to very complex trusts where the Pet Trust owns the home where the pets and caretaker will reside after the pet parent’s death – and everything in between.
A Pet Trust can prevent this typical Will situation: Aunt Molly leaves Fluffy and $5,000 to nephew Ben for the care of Fluffy. Aunt Molly’s Personal Representative (Executor) gives the money and Fluffy to Ben. Ben drops Fluffy off at the shelter and uses the $5,000 as a down payment on a Camaro. There’s nothing the Personal Representative can do about it. But with a Pet Trust, your Trustee only gives the money when the caretaker has fulfilled certain requirements – that you specify.
A Pet Trust can be effective when you’re incapacitated and/or when you die. And money remaining in the trust when Fluffy dies can go to human beneficiaries or to a favorite charity.
For more information about Pet Trusts, check out this article [Pet Trust FAQs: For the Love of Harley] and this video [Pet Trusts: Because Moose Isn’t an Xbox].