For many of us, our beloved pets are an integral part of the family. There are emotional attachments and financial investments as well, especially with larger animals such as horses. Pet trusts are legal arrangements in which a person provides for the ongoing care of their pets after they pass away or become incapacitated. In Illinois, pet trusts are recognized under state law and provide a way for pet owners to ensure their pets are taken care of even after they can no longer care for them. A pet trust enables an owner to name a trustee who can carry out the wishes for their pet. The trust can provide detailed instructions for the distribution of trust funds for the pet’s care. In the case of a horse trust, the trust can contain information about the horse’s conditioning, health issues, and food preferences.
If the pet owner wants the person who will care for the pet to have cash to pay the expenses, a trust structure offers more oversight, particularly if there are two trustees. The trust assets are segregated from the trustees’ personal assets and must be used for the pet’s upkeep as directed in the trust document. The trust will dissolve at the death of the named pet or the last surviving pet if there is more than one. If there are any funds remaining in the trust after the pet or pets have passed away, the remaining funds may be distributed to other beneficiaries as specified in the trust.
SETTING UP A PET TRUST
A pet owner can create a pet trust either during the pet owner’s lifetime as part of a revocable living trust, or through a provision in their will. If a revocable living trust already exists, an amendment or restatement can also be made to include the pet owner’s wishes. Pet trusts are legal arrangements that must be established according to the provisions of state law and must specify the purpose of the trust, name a trustee, name a beneficiary, and specify how the trust funds will be used to provide for the care of the pet or pets. With pets living longer due to such great care by their owners, pet trusts are becoming more prevalent. With a pet trust in place, pet owners can have peace of mind knowing that their beloved pets will be taken care of even after they are gone.
Contact Michelle and our team of estate planning attorneys at Kelleher + Holland, LLC to create an estate plan that is built specifically to protect you and your family.
Kelleher + Holland LLC, has over 30 experienced attorneys with offices in Barrington, Hinsdale and Waukegan, Illinois, as well as Naples, Florida, and we’re proud to serve clients nationwide and internationally.