As you make your end-of-life plans, we understand that you want to ensure that your beloved pets are well taken care of after your passing. Through proper Estate Planning with a knowledgeable attorney at your side, you can include your pets in your Will.

Under North Carolina law, you can even create a Pet Trust to appoint a trusted friend or family member to care for your pet after your passing. Read on to learn more about Estate Planning and what steps you need to take to ensure that your pets are properly cared for should you leave this world before them.

How to Include Your Pets in Your Will

Across states, the law governing the creation and use of Pet Trusts vary widely. However, under North Carolina law, it is possible to include pets in your Will. Estate Planning is focused on helping you to create an optimal strategy for managing your assets during your lifetime and dividing them up after you pass away and caring for your pets can be an essential part of that strategy.

As pets are considered personal property under North Carolina law, you can include them in your Estate Planning and final Will. However, without a Pet Trust in place, there are no legal provisions that your wishes will be carried out if you only name a caregiver for your pet in your Will. To ensure your pets receive a specific standard of care after your passing, it is in your best interest to create a Pet Trust.

Just as minor children can be left a Trust, as they are not legally able to own property under North Carolina law, pets too can be left a Trust. Just like with a Trust left for a minor, you can leave funds, appoint a caregiver, and name a Trustee with the Pet Trust.

In addition, the person you name caregiver of your pet does not have to be the same individual you appoint to oversee and manage the money you leave on behalf of your pet. Now that you know creating a Trust for your pet is a viable option under North Carolina law, it’s time to learn more about the logistics of creating a Pet Trust.

Creating a Pet Trust

A Pet Trust is an Estate Planning tool that allows you to create provisions and provide financially for your pets even after your death. With a Pet Trust, you are legally allowed to designate the care of and funds to one or more designated domestic animals. Within the Trust, provisions can be made that ensure that no portion of the principal or income left to your pet can be converted for the use of the Trustee or to any other use other than the care and benefits of the designated pets.

Some of the thing’s funds in a Pet Trust could financially cover include:

  • Any routine veterinary check-ups
  • Any emergency veterinary care
  • Any routine grooming costs
  • Any feeding or dietary requirements
  • Any toys, bedding, or housing needs
  • Any boarding costs

Setting up a Trust is a great way to ensure that your pets receive the care that they deserve after you are no longer here to give it to them yourself. When creating the Trust, also keep in mind that the Trust will dissolve when the pet or the last surviving named pet in the Trust passes away. In the end, working with an experienced Estate Planning attorney when creating a Pet Trust is the best way to ensure that your pet receives the proper care after your passing.

Reasons to Create a Pet Trust

The following are some of the top reasons to create a Pet Trust:

  • You own a pet with a considerably longer life expectancy, such as a reptile, a bird, a turtle, or a horse, and want to ensure they are well taken care of long after your passing.
  • You own multiple pets, and you want to ensure that they will not be separated.
  • Your pet has special needs that require a considerable amount of money that you do not wish to burden your family or friends with as they care for your pet.
  • You want to ensure that there are funds available for your pet to receive proper veterinary check-ups, grooming, and feeding.
  • You have specific wishes regarding how your pet is taken care of throughout the rest of their days.
  • You have final wishes regarding the burial or cremation of your beloved pet.

Information to Consider When Structuring Your Pet Trust

As you get further into creating your Pet Trust, here are some key points of information you should consider when meeting with one of our attorneys:

  • Who would you like to act as your pet’s caregiver?
  • Will your pet’s caregiver and the pet Trustee will be the same person?
  • Whether a Successor Trustee or caregiver is named in the case that your pet outlives the first-named caregiver or Trustee.
  • The level of care you expect your pet’s new caregiver to provide.
  • The financial amount you estimate the new caregiver will need to handle any pet-related expenses.
  • The current health condition of your pet.
  • The life expectancy of your pet.
  • Where should any remaining money go if there are still funds in the Trust after your pet’s passing?

Final Thoughts to Consider When Creating a Pet Trust

When creating a Pet Trust, always remember to be as specific as possible. This includes everything from how you expect your pet or pets to be taken care of, what foods they should be given, routines that should be followed, and any other care you expect them to receive following your passing.

Ultimately, working with one of our experienced Estate Planning attorneys here at McCollum Law to set up your Pet Trust will be your best option in ensuring that your pet is able to live out the life you always wanted to provide for them. Contact us today to schedule a consultation on your Estate Plan and last wishes for your beloved pet.