Sure, go for it. Establishing a pet trust ensures that your pet is cared for when you are no longer able to do so. Although informal arrangements with friends or family members are well-intended, life circumstances can change anytime. By establishing a trust, you can solidify both resources and caregiving arrangements for your furry friend.
Robots Are Probably Not A Viable Option
Since we can’t all do what Tom Hanks does in Finch (i.e., create a kind-hearted robot to care for our beloved pets when we can no longer do so), pet trusts make good sense. Afterall, there are a lot of pets to be cared for! The Sentinel reports that a survey by the American Pet Products Association found that 70% of households in the U.S. had pets in 2020. That’s about 90.5 million households with at least one pet. Preliminary estimates for 2021 are even higher—with an estimated cost of $109.6 billion spent on food, treats, veterinary care, and other supplies and services. Trusts provide a good option for ensuring the ongoing protection of all these furry friends: “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.”
Estate planning lawyers at Kyle Krull note that establishing a trust provides for both accountability and control. When a trust is set up, specific instructions for pet care and directives about how the use of funds placed in the trust can be detailed in the trust document or agreement—which is a legal document. You will appoint a trustee to administer the trust. This same person can also be designated as the caretaker for your pet—or you can name a separate caretaker. You may even want to specify an alternate. Lawyers also advice specifying arrangements for any money remaining in the trust after the pet dies: “Some people choose to leave it to the caretaker and others choose to leave it to a charitable organization for animals, such as a rescue organization or a no-kill animal shelter. Still others elect to leave the remainder to charities they already support.You may be able to include a charitable remainders trust as part of the agreement.”
Trustees and Trustee Bonds?
When creating a trust, you (the grantor) designate a trustee to administer the assets in accordance with the plans specified in the trust agreement. It is common for family members or friends to be selected as trustees, but there is no rule that says it must be so. A trustee can be anyone you have confidence in—you can even appoint an independent fiduciary. It is helpful to remember that trustees are fiduciaries. As such, they are legally bound to the highest duty of care in executing their responsibilities. In fact, given the significant duties undertaken by trustees, the trust agreement may require procurement of a trustee bond. A trustee bond is a type of fiduciary bond that protects the interests of the trust and beneficiaries by guaranteeing the faithful performance of a trustee 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. The bond can be printed or e-filed from anywhere.
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