A Pet Trust: How To Protect Your Pets After You’re Gone

dogs-and-catsNH Pet Trust – Do you have pets?  Do you worry about their care if you pass before your furry little loved ones? The good news is New Hampshire allows the creation of a Trust setup specifically for your pets. The following outlines what is necessary for the Trust to insure your pets are cared for properly in the event you pass before them.

On October 1, 2004 New Hampshire adopted a Trust for Animal Care act under N.H. RSA § 564-B:4-408:

(a) A trust may be created to provide for the care of an animal alive during the settlor’s lifetime. The trust terminates upon the death of the animal or, if the trust was created to provide for the care of more than one animal alive during the settlor’s lifetime, upon the death of the last surviving animal.

(b) A trust authorized by this section may be enforced by a person appointed in the terms of the trust or, if no person is so appointed, by a person appointed by the court. A person having an interest in the welfare of the animal may request the court to appoint a person to enforce the trust or to remove a person appointed.

(c) Property of a trust authorized by this section may be applied only to its intended use, except to the extent the court determines that the value of the trust property exceeds the amount required for the intended use. Except as otherwise provided in the terms of the trust, property not required for the intended use must be distributed to the settlor, if then living, otherwise to the settlor’s successors in interest.

In summary, this statute provides that a Trust may be created to provide for the care of an animal alive during your lifetime but terminates upon the death of the animal.   If the Trust is for the care of more than one animal it will terminate upon the death of the last surviving animal.  The following are the persons necessary for the establishment of a pet trust:

  • The settlor or sometimes called the grantor (you) is one who establishes the Trust which is an interest of real or personal property held and managed by a Trustee for the benefit of another called the beneficiary (the pets).
  • The Trustee is the person who manages the assets in the Trust and will distribute the assets of the Trust to the Caregiver. The Trustee is also the person responsible to make sure your animals are properly cared for and is under a duty to make arrangements for the proper care of your pet according to your instructions.
  • The Caregiver is the person who will be taking in your pets and caring for them. The Trustee and the Caregiver can be the same person but to insure proper oversight of the funds and care for the pets it is advisable to choose two different people.

In order for the Trust to function properly and to ensure your pets are cared for it must be funded. The following are various ways to fund your pet trust.  If you create your Trust while you are alive, you need to transfer money or other property to the Trustee. For example, if you are transferring money, you would write a check which shows the payee as, for example “Dexter Brown, Trustee of the “Fido & Mittens Pet Trust”. Also, and indicate in the memo line that the money is for “contribution to the “Fido & Mittens Pet Trust.”  If you are transferring land, a deed needs to be drafted naming the grantee with language such as Dexter Brown, in trust, under the terms of the “Fido & Mittens Pet Trust.”

If you create the pet trust in your Will, you should include a provision in the property distribution section of your Will which transfers both your pet and the assets to care for your pet to the Trust. For example, “I leave Fido a Golden Doodle age 4, $10,000 to Dexter Brown, in trust, under the terms of the “Fido & Mittens Pet Trust” created under Article 5 of this Will.”

You can use a life insurance policy to fund your pet trust by naming the Trustee of the trust, in trust, as the beneficiary of a life insurance policy.  This policy can be one you take out specifically to fund your pet trust or you may designate a certain portion of an existing policy payable to your pet trust.

You can also fund your pet trust by using annuities, or retirement plans, and other contracts which permit you to name a person to receive the property after you die by naming the Trustee of your pet trust as the recipient of a designated portion.

The amount you fund your pet trust with cannot be excessive. Uncle Fred may get offended if you leave $200,000 to Fido’s care and he gets your old worthless stamp collection.   Family members can object, thereby tying up the estate for years and ultimately the court can and likely will modify the Trust.

Last but not least, be sure to choose your Caregiver carefully.  A proper Caregiver should not only have a willingness to assume the responsibilities associated with caring for your pet, but have the ability to provide a stable home. There also needs to be a harmonious relationship between the Caregiver’s family members and your pets.

If you are looking for a pet Trust, please call Douglas, Leonard & Garvey to assist you at 1-800-240-1988 or fill out our online contact form.

 

 

 

We Are In Association With