What is a pet trust — and do I need one?

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If you are a Florida resident who is also a pet owner, you may wonder what will happen to your beloved companion animal if you pass away during your pet’s lifetime. Fortunately, your worries can be alleviated by funding a pet trust for your four-legged friend.

Taking the time now to ensure that your loyal companion is well-cared for in the event of your death can give you peace of mind. Pet trusts allow for the continuity of care by a trusted friend or relative. Read on to learn more about what you need to do to provide for your pet(s).

You can set aside funds from your estate in a trust to provide funds for the trustee to dole out to the individual responsible for caring for your pet. These funds cover food, vet expenses and items the pets will need in their lifetimes. It’s also possible to set aside a stipend to pay the pet caregiver for their efforts.

Here in Florida, pet trusts can be designed to end when the last surviving animal named in the trust dies.

Pet trusts are legally enforceable, and their directives can be quite specific. You may dictate the brand of pet food to be bought and served to them and specify where you prefer your pet to be groomed and to receive veterinary care. You may even get granular with your preferences and dictate at which dog park you want your pet to get exercise and socialization.

You don’t even have to die for the terms of a pet trust to kick in. You can also set it up to where the trust takes effect once you are no longer able to care for your pet due to disability or infirmity.

It’s not necessary to stipulate which pet, as you can generalize with something similar to “any pet(s) owned by me at the time of my illness or death.”

The trustee should also be granted the right to inspect your pet to determine it is being well-cared for.

Sometimes, a pet will die before the trust’s funds have been depleted. In these cases, it’s important that a remainder beneficiary be designated to receive the funds. You should also set aside funds to either cremate or bury your pet.

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