In Florida estate planning a person can leave money in trust for the care of an animal. As of July 1, 2007 Florida Statute 736.0408 replaced the previous statute 737.116 which was effective from April 23, 2002 until June 30 2007.
The new Florida Statute states:
(1) A trust may be created to provide for the care of an animal alive during the settlor’s lifetime. The trust terminates on the death of the animal or, if the trust was created to provide for the care of more than one animal alive during the settlor’s lifetime, on the death of the last surviving animal.
(2) A trust authorized by this section may be enforced by a person appointed in the terms of the trust or, if no person is appointed, by a person appointed by the court. A person having an interest in the welfare of the animal may request the court to appoint a person to enforce the trust or to remove a person appointed.
(3) Property of a trust authorized by this section may be applied only to the intended use of the property, except to the extent the court determines that the value of the trust property exceeds the amount required for the intended use. Except as otherwise provided in the terms of the trust, property not required for the intended use must be distributed to the settlor, if then living, otherwise as part of the settlor’s estate.
Under Florida law it would be difficult to leave $12 Million Dollars to a dog as was recently done in New York. If this was done, and a beneficiary under the will were to challenge the court would take the excess and return it to the estate. The decedents estate would determine what was done with the excess money. In addition once the animal died, the remainder of assets from the pet trust would be returned to the estate also.
Although most pet trusts are not as excessive as Leona Helmsley’s, a pet trust is a good idea. Often it is difficult to find someone who wants to take care of the pet, the probate process can be a long process, and when it is complete will the remainder beneficiaries really want the family pet. Its far better to find someone who wants to take care of the family pet, and provide funds so that it is not a burden on the family to do so.
Rarely do we see pet trusts for dogs, it is far more common to see pet trusts for expensive birds, turtles, monkeys and other animals that can live 50 or 70 years beyond that of their owners. If you want to make sure that your pet does not get caught up in the probate process which can take more than 9 months to complete, or you have an animal that is sure to live longer than you will, a Florida Pet Trust may be the solution for you. Please visit a Florida Estate Planning Lawyer to help with your needs.