For many people, a pet is like a child. In fact, family pets are often referred to as “fur babies.” Just like a child, there needs to be a plan in place to make sure they are taken care of, in case you suddenly pass on or become incapacitated.
Selecting a Caregiver for Your Fur Baby
If you have minor children, you will need to carefully select someone who is open to serving as a guardian if you were to suddenly pass on. Similarly, you should carefully select a guardian for your pet; basically, someone able and willing to take your pet in and care for them. Factors to consider when selecting a pet guardian include:
· Whether the potential caregiver has other pets
· The age of the potential caregiver relative to the age of your pet
· The living arrangement of the potential caregiver (e.g., do they live in a community or complex that restricts pet ownership?)
· The financial impact on the potential caregiver to purchase pet food, keep up with veterinarian visits, etc.
· Whether your potential caregiver travels for long periods of time for work or other reasons.
Establishing a Pet Trust in Missouri
In addition to selecting a caregiver, you should also consider establishing a pet trust so the caregiver has sufficient financial resources to care for your fur baby. Missouri is one of nearly 40 states that has passed a law – Mo. Rev. Stat. §456.4-408 – authorizing the creation of a trust for the care of an animal.
The appropriate amount of funds to place into the trust will vary depending on your pet’s age and physical condition. You should also be cautious about placing an exorbitant amount of money into this type of trust. If the amount is considered to be outrageously high, family members could challenge the validity of the pet trust. For example, the late Leona Helmsley established a pet trust and placed approximately $12 million into the trust. Her family members challenged this decision and a judge entered an order reducing the total amount to $2 million.
A great feature of a pet trust is that you can structure it to take effect before your death, if you were to suddenly become incapacitated and unable to care for your pet. This means you can, and should, include language within the trust documents to establish that your designated caregiver can immediately take custody and control of your pet, if necessary.
Have Questions About Creating a Pet Trust? Contact a St. Charles Trust and Estate Planning Attorney
If you need advice on setting up a pet trust in Missouri, do not hesitate to contact Polaris Law Group and St. Charles trust and estate lawyers Scott Stork and Raymond Chandler. Schedule a meeting with Scott or Raymond today by filling out a quick contact form.