Thursday, March 11, 2010

A Primer on Pet Trusts

Having volunteered at a pet fair recently, I realized how important people’s pets can be to them. I noticed that many people treat their pets as though they were their children and even refer to them as such in many instances. As estate planners, we typically assist clients in establishing estate plans to provide for the clients’ children after death. Occasionally, clients are also interested in providing for their pets after death. It is no wonder then that many states, including Nevada, recognize the validity of Pet Trusts and, thus, allow pet owners to legally provide for their “children” after death via testamentary trusts.

NRS 163.0075 allows for a trust to be created for the care of one or more animals that are alive at the time of the settlor’s (the person creating the trust) death. Pet Trusts terminate upon the death of all the animals covered by the terms of the trust. Pet Trusts are legal and enforceable instruments in Nevada. Some helpful hints to keep in mind when establishing a pet trust are as follows:

1. Be sure to name a trustee of the trust and if the caregiver of the pet is someone other than the trustee, be sure to name this individual or entity, as well.


2. Clearly identify the pet for whom the trust is being established. For instance, identify pet’s microchip if there is one or any DNA information to prevent identity fraud by a trustee/caregiver in the future. Include provisions requiring a periodic verification of the pet’s identity, as well.


3. Describe assets to be used to fund the trust and how those assets are to be used, including the standard of living that is to be maintained. These provisions can be as detailed and as specific as needed.


4. Name a remainder beneficiary to receive any property remaining in the trust once the pet for whom the trust was established dies and directions regarding the burial/cremation of the pet’s remains.

It is important to consider all of the items listed above to establish a thorough pet trust. However, if a pet trust is not right for you, you can always leave your pet to someone or leave assets to someone to care for your pet.

-Attorney Jeremy Cooper

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