You may wonder if it is possible to provide for your pet in your estate plan. The answer is yes, there are steps that you can take to make sure that your pet is provided for, come what may.
One way to include your pet in your estate plan would be to identify a caretaker and leave this person a direct bequest in your Will. While this is a possible solution, there are drawbacks that can come about; it is not a foolproof solution.
First of all, you may find it difficult to identify a caretaker who is willing and able to take on the role. If you do find a caretaker, you have to trust this person implicitly, because he or she is not legally compelled to do any particular thing with the inheritance.
In addition to the above, you can make suggestions, but you cannot leave behind legally binding instructions with regard to the exact way that you want your pet to be taken care of after you pass away.
There is also the matter of the longevity of the caretaker that you name in your Will. The caretaker could predecease the pet, and this could create a difficult situation.
Finally, you may wind up leaving the caretaker an inheritance that you would never have left if the pet was not involved. For example, if the pet dies a couple of months after you do, whatever is left of the bequest would be stay in the pockets of the caretaker.
Most of the states in the union allow for the creation of Pet Trusts. Our firm practices in the state of North Carolina, and Pet Trusts are indeed legal in our state.
When you create a Pet Trust you eliminate all of the drawbacks that we have stated in the previous section. In the Trust agreement you name a trustee to administer the Trust. You could choose to utilize a professional fiduciary entity like the Trust department of a bank or a Trust company.
If you choose to go this route, the Trust will be professionally managed, and there are no longevity concerns because you are dealing with an entity rather than a single individual.
The trustee is bound by law to follow the terms of the Trust to the letter. You can leave behind precise instructions with regard to how you want your pet to be cared for after you are gone.
When you create the Pet Trust you name a successor beneficiary. If the pet dies while there are still resources remaining in the Trust, the successor beneficiary will inherit the remainder.
A Pet Trust can be the ideal solution if you want to be certain that your pet gets the appropriate care after you pass away.