Cats     |     Dogs     |     Horses     |     Birds     |     Small Pets

Get the facts on

Pet Trusts and

Trust Funds for Pets

We certainly do Love our Pets!

Information you need to know about Trust Funds for Pets

Many people leave money in their wills to a person they’ve chosen
who will care for their pet after they’re gone. But, there’s no
guarantee the money will be used that way. Now, many animal
lovers are setting up legal trust funds for their pets. They
appoint a trustee who makes sure the caretaker is taking care of
the pet properly.

David and Charlotte Congalton set up a trust fund for their
pets…all 17 of them! “What you’re looking for is a caretaker and
the key issue is finding somebody who is going to share your
compassion for animals,” says David…adding, “These pets are our
children.” Congalton believes in the practice so much, he’s
written a book on the booming business of pet trusts.

The Benefits…
“The benefits of having a pet trust are simply the peace of mind
of knowing that an animal that you care about is going to be
cared for once you’re gone. That there’s money set aside… that
you don’t have to rely on people to do what you’re hoping they’re
going to do. You actually have set up a legal mechanism that will
require people to do certain things. So that’s the main benefit
of a pet trust” says Paul Martinek, Editor of Lawyer’s Weekly.

David Congalton agrees. “A trustee is the best. Because he or she
can make sure that the money is being spent properly, can make
sure that your pets are getting the adequate standard of care
that you expected. It's just another level of oversight. It's a
watchdog. It's a legal watchdog to protect your animals.”

So how much will it cost to set up a pet trust?
“You're going to be paying an attorney to draft a document. That
could be anywhere between $500 and $1,500 dollars. There will be
annual administrative costs. You're effectively going to be
choosing a caretaker and that person is going to be monitored
most likely by a trustee. So, you're most likely going to have to
pay an annual fee to the trustee to monitor the caretaker and
that can get very expensive,” says J.J. McNab, an estate planner.

Then you have to add in the costs for caring for the animal. “We
use $500 per year as a base line,” says Congalton. That’s if you
have a healthy pet. But you also need to think about other
expenses. For instance, how old is the animal? How much longer
will it realistically live? Are there any special needs, like
daily insulin shots for diabetes? Answers to questions like those
could result in extra costs.

Which states have pet trust laws in place?
The following have laws that both allow pets to be named as
beneficiaries of trusts and provide for enforcement of the trust
by someone acting on the pet's behalf:

· Alaska
· Arizona
· Colorado
· Florida 
· Iowa
· Michigan
· Montana
· New Mexico
· New Jersey
· New York
· North Carolina
· Oregon
· Utah

In addition, three states have laws that recognize trusts for
pets as valid but do not provide for their enforcement if the
trustee decides not to implement them:

· California
· Missouri
· Tennessee

Congalton says there’s one more important thing that you should
carry with you at all times…it’s a pet emergency card that’s
about the size of a credit card and that you can make at home.

“It has the name of caretaker and her phone number. It also has
our home address. On the backside, it has the name, phone number,
and address of our veterinarian. So, if we're in an accident,
they can go through my wallet and say ‘oh, we got to get to this
place because this guy has all these animals here. We better call
the caretaker and make sure the animals are cared for.’ That's
absolutely important. We've also set up a photo identification
system and a pet identification file for all of our animals. pet
identification system is paramount, because, if we were killed in
that accident, people come in this house and see all these
animals. But, they don't know what cat is which. They don't know
which dog is which. So, we've set up this file system.”

Published on: Tuesday, December 02, 2003
© 2004 NewsProNet Interactive LLC.

Back to pet and animal law index Page

Search our site for pet Information

Fantastic gift ideas for pet Lovers

Tippy & Alfred's amusing pet Newsletter

Just the Cutest posh stuffed animals

Quality Pet Supplies

Discover how your Dog or Cat can live a longer Life

Site Map