Pet Planning with Texas Pet Trusts
Pet Planning with Texas Pet Trusts
Well-considered estate plans allow you to protect your assets, reach financial goals, and provide for your family members in the future. While considering the various aspects of your trust, you could also have concerns about the wellbeing of your pet when you pass away or if you become incapacitated. Under Texas law, animals are considered property, so it’s impossible to shelter them in a will. Therefore, the best option for ensuring your companion is cared for is by developing a legally-binding pet trust. These types of estate planning trusts are specific and are best executed by a Texas pet trusts attorney.
What is a Pet Trust?
Dallas pet trusts are legal entities that provide direction for the medical attention, daily care, physical control, and burial of your pet. Two types of pet trusts are recognized under Texas law:
- Statutory – a pet trust type authorized by the state which is the basic plan whereby state law determines how the trust operates and is used.
- Traditional legal trust – this type is the preferred method to ensure your pet’s care and the funds related to care are incorporated into the trust.
How Does a Pet Trust Operate?
Pet trusts are like other trust types in that they must be documented to be enforceable. The owner creates the trust and designates a caregiver and trustee as the beneficiary. The trustee manages funds related to pet care and oversees the caretaker who acts as the beneficiary. The trustee must legally follow trust instructions and manage the property for the pet’s benefit. Therefore, the trustee must be financially responsible, dependable, and honest.
In the instance, that at trustee was not named or unable to serve, then another individual with an interest in the pet can request a trustee. It’s also critical that the caregiver be willing to provide care for your animal and can provide it within a safe environment.
As part of pet planning, the trust can also include special care instructions, such as:
- Boarding instructions
- Dietary requirements
- Financial resource provisions
- Grooming instructions
- Veterinary care
As with other types of estate planning trusts in Texas, pet trusts must also be funded by acquiring a life insurance policy that lists the trust as the beneficiary or holding a specific amount of money in the trust. Under a pet trust, payments are provided to the caregiver in predetermined intervals, with the amount of money required for pet care depending on:
- Animal type
- Annual care cost
- Pet’s life expectancy and age
- Need for surgery or extended care
It’s also required to consider compensation for the caregiver and trustee, end-of-life costs, and expenses for the trust administration. Many individuals own horses in Texas, so the financial cost of caring for this animal type is much more expensive than a car, for instance.
Texas law further dictates that the pet trust terminates once no living animal is covered by the trust. Therefore, all remaining trust assets are distributed as follows: if the settlor is living then the funds go to them and if the settlor is not living then the funds are distributed to the beneficiaries under the will.
Benefits of a Pet Trust
Pet trusts are immediately effective upon the event of incapacity or your death, so you will gain peace of mind knowing that your furry companion will be receiving the proper care. Also, pet trusts prevent legal challenges amongst families who disagree with your wishes or cannot find common ground amongst one another.
Why Hire a Dallas Pet Trust Attorney?
Since 2006, Texas has legally recognized pet trusts, but countless Dallas estate planning lawyers still don’t have experience in this area of law. Since any type of trust is a complicated legal process, it must be designed properly to be legally enforced after your death or incapacitation.
Luckily, the legal team at Vermillion Law Firm LLC is well-versed in estate law and a variety of trust types, including pet trusts, with experience in trusts for birds, horses, cats, dogs, and other animals. Since your pet is a critical family member, the team wants to help you plan their care accordingly when you cannot do so! Please contact this Dallas trust attorney office today to speak with professionals who can help with your pet trust!