Concerned About Your Pets? Consider Drafting A Florida Pet Trust
Pets are family. Entire industries are devoted to sending us treats, toys and medicine in the mail for our beloved four-legged family members. Dogs, cats, reptiles and fish also make great companions for our elderly loved ones. While discussing estate and legacy planning can be difficult to address, many people unfortunately fail to consider what would happen to the family pet in the event of an emergency or passing. Do you have a plan for your pet’s continuity of care? Is a pet trust right for you?
What Exactly is a Pet Trust?
Florida statute defines pet trusts as a legal document governing the care of a pet animal after a settlor (person creating the trust) passes away or becomes incapacitated. The trust should contain a provision that makes it void if the settlor outlives the pet. Typically the settlor would appoint a loved one, family member or trusted friend to care for the pet in their absence, and nominate a substitute executor if their first choice cannot serve. Otherwise, if a pet trust is created but no one has been nominated by the settlor, the court will appoint an interested party if they petition the court and the court believes doing so would be in the interest of the animal’s welfare.
You can customize a pet trust to fit your needs. For example, if a settlor owns multiple horses or a boarding operation, they would want to leave specific instructions for continued care of their pets and operation of the horse boarding outfit in their absence. If an owner has a special needs pet that requires medications or regular veterinarian visits, these terms could also be included in the trust.
What about Pet Insurance?
Many people mistakenly think that pet insurance will cover the pet’s care and welfare in the event of an emergency affecting the owner. This is incorrect. While pet insurance is a good idea for senior pets or pets with chronic physical conditions, it only covers medical expenses incurred at the veterinarian’s office or with another animal specialist. Pet insurance does not cover preventive care or pre-existing conditions prior to obtaining coverage, nor does it cover the cost of funeral and burial expenses for a pet. However, the settlor could draft a Florida pet trust that would make the executor the new point of contact for the insurance policy in the event of the settlor’s death or incapacity. If you do have pet insurance, make sure you have an emergency contact listed and provide your adjuster with a copy of your pet trust should you decide to create one.
Contact the Estate & Family Planning Attorneys at Strategic Counsel Law Group
Estate and legacy planning is a fluid process, meant to be revised and reviewed on a regular basis. This is especially true if you add a new furry family member to the mix. While you might assume that a loved one would take care of a pet in your absence, it will give you peace of mind to put it in writing and maintain a contingency plan. Our Tampa estate planning lawyers at Strategic Counsel Law Group, L.C. are prepared to assist you today.