Pet owners consider their beloved pets as friends, companions, and perhaps as other family members. But the law is only a property and without proper planning, the animal may accidentally suffer and live the rest of its life without the usual care because the owner does not know or does not advise to make a plan. Many times pet owners will entrust their pet to a close friend or family member, but there are many reasons why owners wish not to. Many times new pet sitters are unable to keep their pets due to allergies, lack of time, conflicts with other pets or apartment management restrictions for pets. The only guarantee for pet owners is to create legally enforceable documents that will ensure the future of their pets.
Many pet owners believe that by stating the instructions for the care of the animal, they guarantee the future of the animal. They are wrong. A will is valid after death, and its purpose is to distribute property without leaving any standing instructions on how to take care of the property. For example, Jerry got a cat and a car. A will not be able to force Jerry to give the car a tune up every few months. In the same way, the will cannot force Jerry to take care of the cat in a certain way. In addition, the will does not allow for the care of animals if they are incapacitated. A will not be able to deal with the possibility that the pet also needs to be taken care of during the life of the owner.
Trusts for the care of animals or “pet trusts” are recognized in 40 states, and unlike wills, they offer many protections and advantages. First, the trust is valid during the animal owner’s lifetime and after death. A pet trust usually ends when the animal dies or if there is a provision for more than one animal, when the surviving animal dies. Second, pet trusts can control the flow of funds to new caregivers. Detailed instructions can be left with provisions on how to use or spend any funds for the care of the animal. Finally, a pet trust can provide instructions for pet care if you are unable to.
Everyone wants to believe that their pet will be well taken care of in the event of their incapacitation or death. No one wants a court to decide their pet’s future and welfare. The best sense of security for anyone is knowing that family and loved ones are provided for, for pet owners that includes pets. Discuss your pet’s future with an attorney so that you can ensure that your pet will receive nothing but the best care, even if you can no longer provide it.