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Dog, Cat, Parrot, Turtle…



Pets can have very long lives. Macaw parrots for example, live for about 50 years–but can reach 100. Turtles too require decades of attention. With advancements in veterinary science, even “regular” pets, like cats and dogs can live on for years, outlasting their humans and making pet trusts increasingly common.

Pet Trusts Explained

Pets can be great companions for all of us–and are increasingly recognized for the joy and friendship they offer the elderly. While it’s generally hoped that friends, neighbors or relatives will step in to care for our pets should they outlive us, establishing a pet trust ensures that there is money and a solid plan in place for the well-being of our animal friends. As The Sentinel reports: “Pet trusts have been recognized in all 50 states as a lawful way to provide for your pet’s needs. The trust can provide for your pet during your lifetime, as well as after you pass away. This allows for continuity of care for your pet if you become incapacitated during your lifetime and need someone else to have the guidance and resources they need to care for your pet.”


When you establish a pet trust, you designate and set aside resources to care for your pet. You also appoint a trustee to manage the funds in the trust in accordance with your intentions.The trustee can be the same person who cares for your pet, but you can also break out the responsibilities, and have both a trustee and a caregiver. Attorneys further explain: With a pet trust, the trustee makes payments on a regular basis to your pets caregiver and pays for your pets needs as they arise. It would also be worthwhile to create a memorandum providing details to the designated caretaker concerning your pets special needs, health conditions, habits, and idiosyncrasies. Of course, you should not name anyone as a potential caretaker unless you have first asked if he or she would be willing to serve.” If a pet trust strikes you as a good way to ensure your pet has a happy life beyond your own, you’ll want to work with a lawyer to ensure the trust is “legally valid and enforceable” and follow these five steps outlined by Cushing & Dolan:


  1. Decide how much money is necessary to provide for your pets needs throughout their life. Consider veterinary care, food, grooming and any special requirements.

  2. Appoint a trustee to manage the trust and ensure the funds are used exclusively for your pets care. Consider someone who is financially responsible and trustworthy.

  3. Clearly outline your pets needs, preferences and routines in the trust document. Include details about dietary requirements, medical history, exercise routines and any specific care instructions.

  4. Designate alternate beneficiaries who will receive any remaining trust funds after your pets passing. This ensures that any remaining assets are distributed according to your wishes.

  5. Remember, regularly review and update your chosen pet guardian and pet trust arrangements as circumstances change.

Among the important decisions to be made when working with a lawyer on a pet trust, or any type of trust, is the designation of the trustee who will administer it. Typically, a relative or friend is chosen, but it is also possible to appoint a professional trustee. Ultimately, whether a friend, relation or professional is selected, the trustee has fiduciary obligations, and must always exercise reasonable care and skill in managing the assets of the trust. Accordingly, the trust agreement may require a trustee bond, which is a specific type of fiduciary bond that protects the interests of the trust in accordance with the law. As a leading national provider of many types of fiduciary bonds, Colonial Surety makes it easy and efficient to obtain a trustee bond. Just get a quote online, fill out the information, and enter a payment method. Print or e-file the bond from anywhere.

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Good To Know: Transferring Assets To The Trust

Kiplinger reminds us that a trust has no value until arrangements are made to actually transfer assets into it: “Many people assume that once they sign the trust documents at their attorney’s office, they are ready to roll. Setting up a trust, however, is only half of the solution. For a …trust to take effect, it should be funded by transferring certain assets into the trust … .Funding your trust with bank and brokerage accounts generally requires new account paperwork in the name of the trust as well as signed authorization to retitle or transfer the asset.”

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