Rachel Hirschfeld, Esq., creator of the Pet Protection Agreement®

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Pet Protection Agreements®

6. Formal Pet Trusts

A formal stand-alone pet trust ensures care for your pets, but it's a complicated arrangement that should be created by an attorney who specializes in estate planning and has special experience in pet issues. If a pet owner plans to leave a substantial amount of money for the care of pets and believes that family members may put up a fight, then a formal stand-alone pet trust can be a good option.

Like a Pet Protection Agreement®, a formal stand-alone pet trust allows the owner to name a person to take care of the pet, dictate how the pet will be treated, and leave money for the care of the pet. Pet trusts also allow for an investment trustee, who can be appointed to manage the funds and make investment decisions.

Many states now permit statutory pet trusts which may be created through a Last Will, but these statutory pet trusts do not permit the owner to leave instructions regarding the pet's care. Furthermore, a statutory pet trust could be held up by the probate process, and it doesn't work if the owner is incapacitated or unable to care for the animal.

The best way to find a pet trust attorney is to contact your local bar association, or the American Bar Association, and ask for the names of local attorneys who are on the animal law committee and who concentrate in the area of pet trusts.

View Pet Trust vs. Pet Protection Agreement Comparison Chart.
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