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Charitable Gift Planning
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Who Will Care for Your Pet?

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Most pet owners would agree that their pets are as much a part of the family as any human member. But what will happen to your pet after you pass away? A rising trend in estate planning is to set up a trust specifically for your pet.

A pet trust is created for the continued care and maintenance of a particular animal or animals. The trust is funded with money or property, and a trustee is named to administer the trust. The concept is much like that of naming a guardian to care for a minor child.


Trust Specifics
There are many important issues to consider when setting up a pet trust. Here are the top three:
  • The most crucial decision is who to name as trustee. You will want to name a trustee who can be depended on and who will keep the pet's best interests in mind. Be sure to name a contingent trustee in the event your first trustee cannot care for your animal.
  • Consider who will receive the trust assets after the pet passes away. This may or may not affect how the pet is treated and if lifesaving measures will be used. If you wish, you can even leave the remainder to a charitable organization like Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare Foundation, Inc.. Contact Paula S. Fortunas at 850-431-5752 or paula.fortunas@tmh.org to learn more.
  • In some states, pet trusts are only valid for a certain number of years, usually 21. This may create a problem with long-lived companion animals, such as horses, birds or fish. Therefore, you may need to devise a plan for continuing care beyond the term of the trust.
Make Sure It's Legal
Nearly all states have laws in effect that make pet trusts legally binding. Speak with a qualified estate planning attorney about the laws of your state to devise a plan that works for you.

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Want to know more? Get our free guide on pet trusts, at no obligation.



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The information on this website is not intended as legal or tax advice. For legal or tax advice, please consult an attorney. Figures cited in examples are for hypothetical purposes only and are subject to change. References to estate and income taxes apply to federal taxes only. State income/estate taxes or state law may impact your results.