Category: Trusts
Tags: Pet Trusts, Estate Planning


3 Things to Consider When Creating a Pet Trust in North Carolina

Posted on: July 31st, 2015
North Carolina pet trustsAmericans love their pets and often feel connected to their animals as part of a family unit. The American Pet Products Association reported that our country spent about $58 billion on pets in 2014. Pet care costs—whether for a cat, dog, bird, horse, or other animals—can be considerable and are often unpredictable. How can the well-being of a pet be ensured if a pet owner dies?

Pet trusts are formal arrangements that provide instructions and funding for the care of pets. Fortunately, North Carolina is one of the states that has specific legislation regulating the creation of pet trusts. In addition to providing for the continued care of one’s pets, creating a pet trust allows the assets held in the trust pass outside of probate. This can prevent lengthy court delays and expedites ability of the caretaker named in the trust to provide the appropriate care for the pet.
 
  1. Medical needs. As part of the figure reported above, $15 billion was spent on veterinary care. Aside from routine expenses, the cost of emergencies and potential chronic health conditions should be considered when forecasting future pet care costs. Over the past few years, the pet hospice care industry has grown. This service typically costs approximately 25% more on average than comparable in-home programs. This potential extra care expense should be considered when funding a pet trust.
  2. Pet residence. An estate plan with a pet trust not only helps to outline where a pet resides after the pet’s owner passes away, but can also provide direction for the pet’s care in the event the owner becomes incapacitated. Many seniors require long-term care and the costs for LTC are rising. Although there are pet-friendly assisted living communities in North Carolina, many nursing homes are not pet-friendly. It is important to decide in advance where the owner wishes their pet to live in the event the owner’s living situation does not allow pets.
  3. Temporary and permanent care. Perhaps a pet owner leaves instructions for a relative outside of North Carolina to provide pet care for the remainder of the pet’s life. The permanent care provider might need time to prepare their home and to make arrangements for the transport of the pet. Who will care for the animal in the interim? Naming temporary caregivers in pet trust documents can help to alleviate confusion among surviving family members and minimize stress for the pet.

Before filing away pet trust documents, review a few pet trust mistakes to ensure that your document adequately addresses your wishes. Some individuals simply forget to fund a highly detailed trust, or neglect to provide a financial cushion for tax requirements. Both of these errors could compromise the future care of a loved pet.

By Attorney Samantha Reichle
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