Evan H. Farr, CELA was interviewed for the article “A Practical Guide to Pet Trusts” in the July 2013 issue of Cat Fancy magazine. Below is some information excerpted from our newsletter about Pet Trusts, to help you decide if a Pet Trust makes financial sense for you and your family.
Many of us who think of our pets as family members want to ensure that they are cared for after we become incapable of doing so. One way to fulfill this responsibility is to set up a pet trust, or a legally sanctioned arrangement that provides for the care and maintenance of your pet(s) in the event of their your disability or death.
Because pet trusts are enforceable by law, pet owners can have peace of mind knowing their pets will be cared for according to their instructions. The directions left in a trust can be very specific, and can even include your pet’s favorite brand of food, how many times you visit the veterinarian, and your pet’s walk/exercise schedule. A trust that goes into effect while the pet owner is still alive can provide instructions for the care of the animals in the event that the pet owner becomes gravely sick or injured. Since pet owners know the particular habits of their animals better than anyone else, they can describe the kind of care their pets should have and provide a list of the person(s) who would be willing to provide that care.
Unlike a Will, which has to wind through the nightmare of probate, a Pet Trust should be created along with your living trust and should be designed to take effect immediately upon your incapacity or death so that your beloved companion does not have to linger in a shelter while the courts cut through paperwork. Most pet owners opt to leave pets to family or a close friend. The main value of the pet trust is the fact it’s legally enforceable. If your designated caretaker does not live up to obligations, the courts can step in.
Since there are several states in which a pet trust is not valid, and other states where enforcement is discretionary, it is advisable to set up a trust with the help of a Certified Elder Law Attorney, such as Evan H. Farr, who specializes in estate planning. If you live in Virginia, the law (Virginia Va. Code Ann. § 55-544.08) states that “A trust may be created for the care of an animal or animals alive during the settlor’s lifetime. The trust terminates upon the death of the animal, or upon the death of the last surviving animal covered by the trust.”
You can find out more at your complimentary consultation at The Fairfax Estate Planning Law Firm of Evan H. Farr, P.C. You can then decide if the trust makes financial sense for you and your family. If so, we can work with you to include all of your pet’s needs and your wishes for your pet, and name a caretaker and a trust administrator for when the inevitable happens.
Please call 703-691-1888 to make an appointment for a no-cost consultation. While you are in the office, be sure to visit with all of the animals who live here, including Saki and Alley (our Siamese cats), Big Red (our betta fish), Ernie and Jannette (our African Dwarf Frogs), Baxter (our adorable mutt) and Commander Bun Bun (our lop-eared love bunny) and be sure to read our “Critter Corner” column in our Friday “Ask the Expert” newsletter each week.