Have you ever considered what happens to your pets if they outlive you?
The Humane Society estimates that between 100,000 and 500,000 pets end up in shelters every year after their owners die or become incapacitated.
Our pets provide us a lifetime of companionship, and Connecticut law provides us as pet owners with an estate planning tool to plan for our pets’ care at our death or incapacity.
Since 2009, Connecticut has allowed pet owners to establish trusts for the sole purpose of caring for their pets. In layman’s terms, we call them Pet Trusts.
In order to create a valid Connecticut Pet Trust, you need:
- A Trust Protector: Someone designated to act on behalf of the pets named in the Pet Trust ;
- A trustee: Someone to care for your pets or who has the authority to appoint a caretaker;
- An identification of which pets are beneficiaries of the Pet Trust; and
- A source of funding to pay for care of your pets. For example, a lump sum payment from your estate, or designating your Pet Trust the beneficiary of a modest life insurance policy.
But why a Pet Trust?
Pet Trusts are legally enforceable, and are subject to the probate court’s jurisdiction.
What does this mean?
It means that you can have peace of mind that your pets are being properly cared after you die. Or after you become incapable of caring for them.
The trustee you choose will be required to follow carry out your wishes, which can include regular veterinary visits, nutritional specifications and your desire for the trustee to maintain your pet’s current standard of living.
Upon your death or incapacity, your Pet Trust’s trustee must file an annual accounting with the probate court to show how he or she is spending the Pet Trust’s funds. The probate court can also remove and replace a trustee who is not following your wishes.
What if there’s money left over?
You can designate who shall receive any remaining balance of your Pet Trust upon the death of the last pet beneficiary. You can select a loved one, a shelter or charity in memory of your pets. The choice is yours.
Your pets add an immeasurable joy to your life – take the steps to decide their fate. And take comfort in knowing that a Pet Trust will ensure that they will be protected and cared for in the years to come.