NORMAN — Dear Savvy Senior,
How does one go about creating a trust for their pets? I have a dog and two cats that mean the world to me, and I want to make sure they’ll be well taken care of after I’m gone.
Pet trusts have become more and more popular over the years as senior pet owners are looking for ways to ensure their pets will be well cared for when they’re no longer able to do the caring. Here are some tips to help you get started.
Types of trusts
A pet trust is a legal instrument that allows you to designate a specific amount of money for your pet’s care and name a trustee to carry out your wishes. There are two main types of pet trusts you can set up. One option is a “traditional pet trust,” which is effective in all states and is similar to a trust you’d set up for a child, but it’s expensive costing anywhere from $500 to $1,500.
Or, you could opt for a “statutory pet trust” which is a much cheaper option and is currently allowed in more than 40 states and the District of Columbia. To create a statutory pet trust you simply add a few lines to your will, such as, “I leave $5,000 in trust for the care of my dog and two cats.” State law will fill in the gaps, so that the simple provision may be effective.
If you want to set up a pet trust, talk to an estate-planning attorney, preferably one who has experience with pet trusts. Or, you can work with a company like Peace of Mind Pet Trust (peaceofmindpettrust.com) or Trusted Pet Partners (trustedpetpartners.com). Some factors you’ll need to consider before setting up a pet trust include: