While cats and dogs are common house pets, pet trusts can be drafted for the benefit of many other domestic animals to ensure that your family pet receives the love and care it deserves for the entirety of its life. As Chicago estate planning attorneys, our main focus is ensuring continuity amongst family members through preparations of wills of trusts, including pet trusts. Agents are entrusted with financial and healthcare powers of attorney while guardianship is appointed for the care of children in the event of tragedy, but many family members omit to plan for the care of their pets.
Roughly 85 million individuals and families own a pet (or 67% of US families), with 95% of owners considering their pets to be members of the family. Despite these numbers, many pet owners overlook their family pet when it comes to drafting their Illinois estate plans. Why not make sure every member of your family is addressed during the estate planning process.
Drafting Pet Trusts
Planning for animal care is similar to planning for children. As such, trusts are generally a better vehicle than wills to bypass the probate process, which may delay the financial support necessary to immediately begin caring for the animal. A pet trust can easily assist a pet owner separate and allocate trust property for the benefit of a pet’s care during its lifetime and into to its last years of life. A pet trust is drafted quite similarly to any other trust instrument. Some common components of pet trusts may include trust administration, health care directives, medical aid, grooming and exercise requirements, and other preferential treatment desires. A pet trust functions by allocating a sufficient amount of funds to a designated trustee to ensure the economic, medical and social care for your pet. Through the appointment of a trustee, a pet can receive care and support for the rest of its life.
As with revocable living trusts, a pet trust requires special attention and a thorough review of the Illinois probate code. It is important to create specific, unequivocal guidelines for a valid trust. Frequent changes to probate code, however, can make this a difficult task to execute. Our Chicago probate attorneys provide clients with the necessary legal counsel to construct a pet trust that successfully adheres to the relevant probate codes while also upholding the specific interests and wishes of our clients for the love and support of their pets.
How A Pet Trust Works
In general, a pet trust outlines specific instructions on how the owner wishes the pet to be cared for after incapacity or death. A caretaker is usually selected to be responsible for the pet’s day-to-day care. Funds are allocated to the pet trust for expenses in connection with food, vet bills, and recreation. A trustee of the trust is also selected to manage the trust’s funds and oversee the caretaker’s compensation for caring for the pet. Once the pet passes, the remaining trust funds can then be redistributed to the beneficiaries or a charity of the owner’s choosing.
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