If you love your pet like a family member, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has some advice: Consider planning for your pet's future care as though the animal were a real dependent.
In a very real sense, the truest “dependant” a person can have is their own pet. A pet is neither quite a person, so the law goes, nor is a pet quite a thing. Consequently, planning for your pet's future, if you are not in it, is an essential responsibility.
Trusts are fairly powerful legal devices, amendable to many situations, and when they primarily benefit a friend with feathers, fins or fur, then they are appropriately termed “pet-trusts.” This special form of trust was the recent topic of an article in The Wall Street Journal titled “Pondering a Trust for Your Pet.”
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) is taking unprecedented steps to address the practical and legal considerations of ownerless but bequeathed pets. If you are an animal-lover planning your estate, then this ought to be an interesting development.
Whether a “pet trust” is the right step for you and your animal companion may vary on your pet’s needs and your family’s commitment to the animal. Regardless, do not simply assume that your pet will have a home without you and will be cared for accordingly. A pet trust will provide you with peace of mind backed by fiduciary certitude that all will be well for your special friend.
While Wisconsin does not currently recognize a Pet Trust in the sense of the pet being the direct beneficiary, there are ways to utilize the trust format to benefit your pet by leaving funds to the person caring for your pet along with specific instructions.
For more information on pet trusts in Wisconsin estate planning, contact my office for an appointment.
Reference: The Wall Street Journal (September 7, 2012) “Pondering a Trust for Your Pet”