Leaving it all to the Dogs (or Cats or Goldfish….)

Posted on August 14, 2007

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A growing number of states recognize that, just like human beings, people’s pets can be protected by trusts. Under the Uniform Trust Code that became effective in Alabama in January, 2007, pet owners in Alabama also have that option.  As a result, more and more pet owners are sitting down with estate planning lawyers to prepare documents that will ensure the well-being of their pets once the owners die or become incapacitated.

A few things to keep in mind when drafting trust for your pet include:

  • The name and address of a trustee and an alternate trustee;
  • The name and address of a caregiver and alternate caregiver;
  • Detailed information identifying your pet (such as microchip or DNA info);
  • Instructions for the trustee to regularly inspect the pet to prevent identity fraud;
  • The standard of living and care you wish for your pet (such as the type of food your pet prefers, exercise routine, how often your pet visits the vet, and any chronic health conditions for which your pet must take medication or receive regular health treatment);
  • A detailed description of the property that will fund the trust;
  • Information on how the remainder of the trust should be distributed once your pet dies; and
  • Instructions on the final disposition of your pet’s body.

For more information on pet trusts, see the following links: Animal Owners Set UpTrust Funds for Their Pets, Estate Planners Find New Niche as States Recognize Pet Trusts, Frequently Asked Questions About Pet Trusts, What is a Pet Trust?, and Will Planning and Pet Trusts

Melanie P. Hahn, Hahn Law Firm, P.C.

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