You can’t even imagine your life without your dog (or cat, or bird or horse), but you’re concerned about their future if something happens to you. You’re getting on in years, and you’re afraid that your beloved pet won’t get the right care if you should precede them in death. Worse, you’re afraid they may end up in a shelter or put to sleep.
A pet trust can help.
What’s a pet trust?
A pet trust works very similar to any other kind of trust. You create it with the intention that it will hold assets that are designed to pay for your pet’s care, including food, grooming, medical treatments and other expenses.
You still need to designate a caretaker for your pet who can step in if you’re incapacitated or die, and the trust will make the payments to them on your pet’s behalf.
Some states will allow a pet trust to continue until the animal’s death or up to 21 years, whichever comes first, while others (including Massachusetts) will allow the trust to continue until the animal dies without regard to any time limit. This is particularly useful if you have a pet that has a longer lifespan, like certain turtles, parrots and horses.
Once the trust has served its purpose, the remainder of the assets can be used to fund a charitable interest you may have or something else.
How do you set up a pet trust?
The best way to set up a pet trust — or any trust — is with the help of an attorney. Your pet is important, so your pet trust needs to be very specific. You may want to establish rules about your pet’s care, including how they are fed, exercised and more.