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Basic things to know about pet trusts

When we think about estate planning, it is natural to consider a will. After all, written instructions about how to distribute one’s property after passing is something that everyone wants to do. The same could apply to the notion of trusts. A trust is a legal entity that holds property or assets for another person. A trust can hold cash, real property, securities or any other property.

Indeed, trusts are traditionally held for people, usually minors who have not reached the age of majority or young adults who do not have the maturity to handle large sums of money. But as society continues to evolve, more people are creating pet trusts.

The Petco and PetSmart commercials exemplify our relationships with our pets and show that more people consider them to be members of the family. After all, they provide companionship, unconditional love, and they’re just so cute. Because of this, pet owners are taking additional steps to make sure that their pets are taken care of in the event they are no longer able to do so.

As we alluded to earlier, a pet trust is a great way to set aside money and/or property specifically for the care of your pet. A pet trust works like any traditional trust, where the trust is established and treated as a separate entity. The trust has a trustee, who is charged with maintaining the trust and utilizing the assets according to the testator’s wishes. Like a trust that sets aside money and assets for children, a pet trust sets aside money for health care, grooming (as necessary), as well as feeding.  

Like many estate planning vehicles, a pet owner does not need a large estate worth millions of dollars to establish a pet trust. The law in Arkansas gives pet owners a great deal discretion in determining what should be included in the trust. With that, a trust can give a pet owner peace of mind when it comes to caring for a pet when you are not able to, and such property does not have to be tied up in probate.

If you have additional questions about pet trusts, an experienced estate planning attorney can help.

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