Tuesday 10 February 2009

Cat and Pet Trusts

Cat and Pet Trusts are the recommended way to ensure that your beloved cat or pet is cared for after your death or even if and when you become incapacitated. I am in the UK and I have a Will, which makes provision for my cat, Binnie, should I predecease her. Although this is unlikely as she is old (about 85+ in human terms) and I am younger but still old!

Anyway, as far as I know people in the UK deal with their pets in a Will, while in the United States it is a trust. The advantage of the latter is that it will take effect immediately, whereas a Will becomes effective once probate is granted and that can take some time. In the interim it would be necessary for someone to care for our cat or pet informally. That said I don't really see a problem with that but it necessary to have some sort of formal provision, hence the Will.

As cats and pets are simply inanimate property in the eyes of the law it is essential to create protection for them on our death or when incapacitated. In a large number of States in the USA cat or pet trusts are legal and it seems commonplace. One such State is Texas. Others are Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah and Wisconsin. Of course it pays to check. A decent lawyer should be able to produce a trust deed as a matter of course.

A trustee is appointed under specific terms and a part of your estate set aside to allow the trustee(s) to deal with health issues, support, maintenance, housing and other special circumstances. All the usual things in fact. Another advantage of a trust over a Will is that it can be drafted to become effective under circumstances other than and including our death, which makes it more comprehensive and flexible. Any funds left over on the death of our pet would go into the estate to be distributed in the usual way. The kind of details that go into a cat and pet trust are:
  1. Details of the trustee and alternate trustee
  2. Details of the caregiver (if this is a different person)
  3. Details and ID of the cat or pet concerned
  4. Particulars on the care to be given
  5. Details of the property where the pet will live
  6. Distribution details as to the remainder of trust funds on the death of the pet
  7. Instructions as to how the pet is to be dealt with on his or her death
I would expect it to be relatively cheap to produce too and if it wasn't I'd ask why not as I am sure a lawyer would use a form of precedent and modify that. I must check up on the law in the UK on this issue. Cat and pet trusts provide peace of mind for owners.

Cat and Pet Trusts to Cats and the Law.

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