Animal Rights and Pet Trusts

It wasn’t long ago that animals had no rights when their owner died. Today you make a difference in your Pet’s life after you are gone.

Estate planning for pets gained momentum during the 1990s, and pet trusts are now legal in most of the 50 states, including Florida.

A smooth transition

If you die or become incapacitated, what will happen to that special “member of the family?” Legally, a pet is your tangible personal property. It would pass to your heirs or the beneficiaries of your estate unless you have a will or trust stipulating otherwise. Even if you have a will, it doesn’t likely address who is actually the best person to care for your pet, nor does it address the immediate problem of care, which pets will need at once. They can’t wait until after the will is through probate.

The Florida pet trust is your chance to smooth the transition for your pet while providing the funds for its care and any special needs during its natural life. Details of such trusts vary by state, but no matter how you establish one, there are basic decisions to make before you act.

Picking a caretaker

Perhaps the most difficult step is finding the most suitable caretaker – someone not only able, but also willing to take on the care of your pet. Relatives and friends may enjoy visiting with your pet, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into a willingness to provide for its daily care.

Discuss what financial provisions should be made to reimburse the caretaker for actual expenses for food, toys, walking, veterinary care and any special needs.

If you have no relatives or friends willing to accept possible pet-care responsibilities, you could investigate the fairly large number of non-profit organizations willing to do it.

Pet information

Whether a person or an organization, your pet’s designated caretaker will need comprehensive information – both short-term (suppose you are hospitalized for a limited time) and long-term. This could include registration papers, if they exist, and descriptions that amount to reliable ways of identifying your pet – the story is told of a caretaker of a black dog who kept finding other black dogs to keep the trust income coming in long after the original pet had died. Markings are obvious identification points, but beyond that, you might consider DNA identification or micro chipping.

Other essential information includes a veterinary history, details of any medical conditions, dietary requirements, sleeping and exercise habits, even social preferences – especially any negative reactions your pet has to certain types of persons. For many, taking care of pets left behind is a particularly sensitive subject. If your situation fits certain criteria you may want to consider a Florida Pet Trust.

Pet trusts use to be very expensive to create, no a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer can include provisions in your Florida will or trust to deal with your pet for less than a few hundred dollars. For more information on Florida Pet trusts contact a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer.

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