Estate Planning for Pets
Do you ever wonder what might happen to your pets if you were to be suddenly unable to care for them?
Of course, if you have a spouse or other persons at home, you can usually count on those persons to carry on. But what if you are living alone with your pet or what if the only other person around might mean well, but they don’t care as much for your pets as you would like. What then?
It sounds terrible, but in many counties in Nevada, if the pet owner dies and there is no designated person to step in to take care of the pet, Animal Control will be forced to take the pet to the local shelter and the pet will likely be euthanized, sometimes within as little as 72 hours from the time the pet is received into the shelter.
In 2001, Nevada Statue 163.0075 came into effect, making it legal to create a trust to provide for the care of animals.
If you are alone and there is no one likely to step in, you must first be concerned with what happens if you become incapacitated and cannot care for the pet.
For this reason, it may be wise to designate a person whom you trust and who is agreeable to take on the care of the pet in the event of your incapacity. Also, the trust may provide a stipend to the caregiver to cover the potential costs associated with caring for the pet.
Have a Family Member Present
What if you have diligently provided for naming a caregiver to enter the picture, but you die and there is no one present when the police or public administrator enter the home and find a pet there?
Even if the neighbor tells Animal Control that you named that neighbor as caregiver in the event of death, Animal Control cannot just hand the pets over to the person claiming to be the designated caregiver.
Normally if a family member is present when Animal Control arrives, Animal Control will release the pets to the care of the family member. After this, the trust can segregate a certain amount of the estate to provide for ongoing care of the pets. It is wise to know your neighbors and be sure the neighbors have a number to call of a family member who can arrive and take control of the pets.
If the pet does wind up at an animal shelter, if the trust designates a person to take the pets, the animal shelter will likely turn custody over to the designated caregiver upon proper identification and presentation of the trust agreement where the caregiver is specifically named to take the animals.
While there are some outrageous pet trusts in existence, Nevada law limits the amount that can be set aside to a reasonable amount as necessary to provide for the pet for its remaining life expectancy.
If the funding of a pet trust is way out of proportion to the amount reasonably necessary for the pet’s remaining life, the excess will be distributed according to the terms of the trust as though the pet were not living or had already died.
With all this planning, any failure of communication along the way can have unfortunate results. Therefore, it is critical to clearly designate the persons who are to take care of the pets and provide a means, if necessary, for the pet’s expenses to be covered.
The pet trust can go a long way in achieving the result of continuing care of your pets once you are gone.