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Pet Trusts in Florida

pets

Many people who have pets think of them as members of their families. Therefore, it is natural that when planning an estate, individuals want to make sure that their pets are provided for. This often takes the form of pet trusts. If you are thinking about planning your estate and want to be sure that your pets are taken care of you should contact a knowledgeable estate planning attorney to be sure that the pet trust is drawn up correctly and complies with applicable laws.

History of Pet Trusts

In the past, people were not able to leave anything to pets because pets were thought of as personal property, no different than a table or a lamp. To get around this people would leave property to another person to be used to care for the pet, but these were not enforceable by the court. Therefore, there was no legally binding way to pay for a pet’s care in the event of the owner’s death. However, legislatures started to recognize the bonds that people had with their pet and many states passed statutes that allowed people to create pet trusts.

Florida’s Pet Trust Statute

Florida passed its own pet trust statute in 2004. Pet trusts put money into an account for the care of the pet after the owner’s death. Of course, the money does not go directly to the pet, but rather to a human caretaker who is entrusted with taking care of the pet. You will want to think very carefully about who to name as a caretaker of your pet in the event of your death and make sure they are able and willing to treat the pet as you would want them to be treated.

Since a pet trust is a trust, there will also be a trustee who is responsible for investing the money in the trust and giving out the money to the caretaker of the pet. Generally, the trustee of the pet trust should not be the same person as the caretaker of the pet.

Money and Taxes

It may be difficult to figure out how much money is needed to take care of the pet for the rest of its life. Pet trusts will automatically end at the death of the pet, so the grantor should name a remainder beneficiary for any money remaining in the trust. However, you will want to be careful of overfunding a pet trust because the money in the trust is part of the taxable estate even if the remainder beneficiary is a charity.

Reach Out to Us Today for Help

If you are thinking about planning your estate and may want to include your pet in part of your estate planning, you should contact a skilled estate planning attorney to come up with a plan that conforms to your wishes. Our experienced estate planning attorneys at Millhorn Elder Law Planning Group in The Villages, Florida, can help to make sure that all of your family members are provided for after your death, even the four legged ones.

Resources:

floridabar.org/DIVCOM/JN/JNJournal01.nsf/e4af811e3d563fa885256adb00471d5b/333e2f57acfea21b85257d7e00486720!OpenDocument

flsenate.gov/Laws/Statutes/2012/736.0408

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