Three Steps to Create a Pet Care Trust
DES MOINES, Iowa , August 09 /Businesswire/ - Americans are a pet-loving people. According to the American Pet Products Association 2011 National Pet Owner Survey, 62 percent of U.S. households own a pet. Most of those pets are regarded as members of the family, so it's important to consider them in contingency plans as well. Do you know what would happen to your pets, and who would be willing to care for them, if something happened to you?
Until recently, arrangements for pet care set up by a Will or Trust were not enforceable; however, the law has been catching up with pet owner sentiments. As of March 2012, forty-six states recognize the power of a pet owner to create legally enforceable pet trusts as Pet Care Plans. Only the states of Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, and Mississippi lack such trust provisions at this time.
The change in legislation prompted Chris Giuliana to research pet care plans and what he could do for his own cat, Janis Joplin. An attorney and special advisor at ARAG®, a global provider of legal solutions, Giuliana says a Pet Care Plan is a well-thought out strategy to provide for the lifetime care of your pets. To get started, he suggests pet owners consider the following steps.
Step 1: Think about what you expect for the care of your pets for the pets' lifetime. Think about items such as what kinds of food, recreation, and living arrangements they should have; who provides veterinary care and how frequently they visit; and what funds will be needed to make the plan viable.
Step 2: Choose the appropriate legal document. After thinking through the details, pet owners can make their intentions known in one of several different legal documents, namely a Pet Care Revocable Trust, a Pet Care Testamentary Trust or a Non-Trust Pet Care Plan. “They each have their own advantages, risks and funding rules," says Giuliana. “It’s important for pet owners to think through what they want then discuss those intentions with an attorney who has experience creating these types of documents.”
Step 3: Decide how the plan will be funded. Funding your Pet Care Plan is another major step. “You’ll want to be able transfer enough assets to the trust to meet annual upkeep costs, such as food, recurring medical care, license fees, toys and treats, litter, perhaps veterinary care insurance and those special miscellaneous items you know you want for your pets,” says Giuliana. This annual upkeep amount will need to be projected over the remaining life expectancy of your respective pets.
A Pet Care Plan is another part of a carefully crafted estate plan. When considering your options to create a Will, Living Will or Power of Attorney, a good resource can be a legal plan that provides access to a nationwide network of attorneys and legal resources. These types of plans, offered by providers like ARAG, are usually offered through employers or organizations, although some options are available to individuals. To find out more about how legal plans work, visit www.ARAGgroup.com.
ARAG (www.ARAGgroup.com), whose North American operations are based in Des Moines, IA, is a global provider of legal solutions. The company has an international premium base of almost $2 billion and it protects 15.5 million individuals and their families – worldwide. ARAG offers comprehensive legal plans that provide a smart and trusted path for resolving legal issues. This enables people to protect their families, finances and futures.