A pet trust is something that was enacted in Nevada in 2001. Not every state has one of these laws. And let me just back up and explain to you what would happen if you don’t have a pet trust. So a lot of people will draft their will and they will actually account for their animal in their will. They’ll say, I’m gonna give my animal—because depending on how you look at it, animals are considered property—I will give my animal to my sister or whoever they want to designate.
The problem with that, well, there’s a couple problems.
One, if you pass away and you have a will, then like we’ve talked about in other episodes, the will has to be probated. That has to be lodged with the court. And then the court essentially orders everything to go to whatever people that are designated in the will. So the problem with that is it’s a long process. Frankly, by the time the will is lodged with the court, a personal representative is appointed where at least 30 to, well we’re like 60 days plus past the date of death. So at that point the animal may already be in a shelter or given away or basically not around anymore. So that doesn’t really work.
Number two, there’s no checks and balances when you’re just giving somebody your animal. You’re just hoping that someone will care for the animal in the way that you wish. With a pet trust, a lot of these things are alleviated. The benefit of a pet trust is you designate a caretaker for your animal, the person that’s actually going to take care of your animal. And then you also designate a trustee of the trust. So, there’s a checks and balances on this. The trustee is able to basically manage or check on the caretaker of the animal.
Another benefit is most people when they set up pet trust, they fund them with a small life insurance policy. So it’s not like you have to set one up and have $25,000 or $50,000 ready for the care of your animal. You just need to have a little life insurance policy. The life insurance beneficiary is the pet trust. So then what happens when you pass away is the life insurance proceeds are payable to the trust. The trustee then administers the trust and pays sums to the caretaker in to take care of the animal.
The other thing with the trust is you can designate how you want the animal to be taken care of, including what vet you want to be used; when you want the animal to be fed; how many times you want the animal to be ridden, if it’s a horse or an animal that requires more care. You have a lot more control over how your animal is dealt with after you pass away. So this is something especially popular with people that have what, like I said, horses, bigger animals, more expensive animals, because you know, they want to make sure that they’re well provided for.
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