What happens to my pet if I die?

Provide for the care of your pet through a pet trust to avoid your pet’s fate falling into the hands of people you do not choose.  A pet trust is a legally enforceable way to provide care for your pet if you die, or become incapacitated and unable to care for your pet.

“I have a provision in my will for my dog.”  Your will comes into play after you die.  What if you became incapacitated from an accident, injury or illness?  Your will would not help, but a pet trust would.  Your trustee and pet’s caregiver could step in and begin caring for your pet if you become incapacitated and unable to take care of your pet.

“I’ve left money to my sister and she has agreed to take my cat if I die.”  What happens, however, if your sister would die shortly after you, or die before you and you never update your will, or if she otherwise becomes unable to care for your cat?  If you had a pet trust, your successor caregiver would step in and care for your pet.

A big difference between a pet provision in your will, versus having a pet trust, is timing.  With a will, your executor can’t make distributions until your estate has gone through probate, and money for your pet’s caregiver might be unavailable for months, or longer if there are any issues with probate.  With a pet trust, your trustee has access quickly to trust funds, and can provide money to the caregiver for your pet’s needs.

A pet trust is like most trusts where you name a trustee and successor trustees to manage the assets of the trust; you name a caregiver and successor caregivers to physically care for your pets; and you fund the trust, typically with your assets at your death or with a life insurance policy with the trust as the beneficiary.

If you live in Columbus, Cleveland, Akron or Canton, and areas in between, and want to provide for your pet’s future without you by preparing a pet trust, email me at julie@juliemillslaw.com, or call me in northern Ohio at (216) 438-1298 or central Ohio at (614) 519-8661.

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