Sometimes, people do not realize that they can provide for their pets after they are gone. The way to do this is with a pet trust. The difficult part of a pet trust is that you will not be there to enforce your wishes. Therefore, you need to make sure that you are making appropriate planning choices so you can limit the chances of anything bad happening to your pets or your pet trust.
1. Appropriating more than the pets could ever need
The idea of someone giving millions of dollars to their pets has long been a popular cliché. While it does happen, not only is it rare, but leaving unreasonable amounts lead to lawsuits from disinherited family members. Such lawsuits diminish the inheritance and entangle the family in strife for months or years. Rather than putting your family and pets through this, you should leave a reasonable amount of money for your pet to continue their care and quality of life.
2. Providing vague or unenforceable instructions
Too often, pets do not receive the same level of care that their owners wanted because of poor planning. This can be either poor or vague instructions given to the pets’ caretaker, or not using a trust and relying on instructions that are not legally binding.
For example, if you leave money to someone, and even if you give them instructions on how to take care of your pets, if you do not use a pet trust, you are essentially relying on hope and that person’s integrity. That caretaker can take and use that money however they wish, even ignoring your instructions. However, if you use a pet trust, you can provide much more structure to your instructions, and you also create legal protections for your pets. A pet trust’s instructions can be as detailed as you wish, and your caretaker would be legally bound to following your wishes.
3. Failing to keep information updated
Life continues to change in so many ways: finances, location, assets, and pets. If you set up a pet trust for your pets, and then you add some more pets, but do not update your trust, those new and unnamed pets may not be protected and cared for under the trust. This is an all-too-often occurrence in pet trusts, and can easily be avoided. You need to work closely with your estate planning attorney to make sure that your pet trust, as well as your other estate planning documents, always reflect your current life situation, not your situation for five or more years ago.
4. Not having a contingency plan
Many people have a first choice of who they want take care of their pets. However, what if that person is unable (through death or incapacity), or unwilling to take care of your pets? Do you have a backup? You can never have too many backups, but you can have too few. Your back ups should also be listed in your trust.
5. Not engaging a professional to help
The DIY industry has done many excellent things. However, providing for your family and your pets is an area that does require experience and legal wisdom that only a living attorney can provide.
Fortunately, all these five mistakes listed above are preventable, especially with an experienced estate planning attorney there to help you create and maintain your strategy. Contact The Rains Law Firm or schedule a complimentary initial meeting to start taking care of your furry family members.