Everyone loves their pets. In 2012, the American Veterinary Medical Association estimated that a little more than 70 percent of Americans have a pet. Even though most pet owners would like to believe they will always be around to take care of their pets, often this is not the case because of death or incapacity. Therefore, many people may want to leave something behind to ensure that their pet is taken care of in the event something happens.
Usually, an animal cannot inherit money, property, or an estate. Therefore, a pet could not be the beneficiary of a trust. Thus, even when someone would try and leave something behind for their pet, the Florida probate courts were unable to enforce the provisions.
However, in 1990, the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws changed the Uniform Probate Code (UPC) to allow for the creation of pet trusts. Florida has since then adopted the UPC and has made pet trusts valid for the lifetime of the pet.
These pet statutes provide ways for the courts to distinguish the pets, uphold the trust, and decide the sensibility of assets. If the trust has been established to care for more than one animal, the trust will remain in effect until the death of the last animal. However, when creating a pet trust, testators should consider other factors, like arrangements for alternate caregivers, the day-to-day care requirements for the animal, including emergency care and the final disposition of the pet.
There are also other important considerations when establishing a pet trust, like determining whom the pet caregiver will be. The pet caregiver should be a person or organization that is actually willing to provide for the animal once you are gone. Therefore, it is best for a testator to speak to the potential caregiver before nominating them to ensure that they are willing to accept this responsibility. The pet owner should also consider whether the potential caregiver has the physical accommodations to provide for the pet. For example, if the pet owner has a dog or cat, the pet owner should consider whether the potential caregiver lives in a building that permits animals. Even though everyone would like to take care of their pets after they are no longer able to, it is best to consult with an estate planning attorney because drafting the proper document can be complex.
Whether your priority is your children, your pet, or just preserving your legacy, estate planning is important for everyone. Don’t delay call today for your free consultation.
For more information on Estate Planning, Asset Protection, and Probate administration visit our website at www.wfplaw.com
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