Hyden, Miron & Foster, PLLC Law Blog

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Estate Planning With Your Pets in Mind

If you consider your pets to be part of your family, you might assume that your beloved Fido and Fluffy will be as well taken care of as a human should you become unable to care for them. Unfortunately, that assumption is wrong. Under the law, pets are considered property, and are treated no differently than your dining room table or television, unless you make special arrangements for them in your estate planning documents. At Hyden, Miron & Foster, PLLC, we can help clients in Arkansas make long-term care plans for their pets using a pet trust. 

A pet trust allows you to arrange for the care of your pet should you become incapacitated or pass away, as opposed to a will which only allows you to provide for your pet in the event of your death. We find that trusts are also more likely to be enforced in these types of situations. A pet trust can be a separate and distinct trust or can be included in a revocable trust that handles the disposition of your property.

In order to set up a pet trust, you will need to:         

• Put together a detailed description of the pets to be provided for. 

• Select someone to serve as your pet or pets’ guardian. You should talk with this person about your intentions to make sure they are on board with your plans. It is also wise to pick a successor guardian in case the original guardian is unable to care for your pets when the time comes. If the trust is created during your lifetime, you could serve as the initial guardian and then when you pass or become incapacitated the successor guardian would serve.

• Determine how much, if any, money or other assets you are going to place in the trust to financially provide for your pets. We can help you determine how much and what types of assets are best, based on our experience with these types of trusts. 

• If you are putting a substantial amount of resources in the trust, we recommend selecting a financial advisor for the trust. Placing someone other than the pet guardian in control of the finances to help ensure that there are multiple people looking out for the welfare of your pets.

• Decide who will receive the assets left in the trust after your pet(s) die. Some people devise the remaining trust estate to the pet guardian and financial advisor as compensation for their service. Others choose to donate any remaining assets to charities that support animal welfare, such as a local animal shelter, or leave the remaining assets to their family.           

If you would like to talk with someone on the estate planning team at Hyden, Miron & Foster, PLLC, about providing for your pets in this way, please call us today at (501)482-1787 or (800)467-8297. We would be happy to schedule consultation with you at one of our offices, conveniently located in Little Rock, Conway, and Hot Springs Village. 

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