Have you ever wondered who will take care of your pets if something happens to you? Frequently we expect our loved ones to take care of our fur-babies when we become unable to do so. However, our friends or family may not be able to provide that care for a variety of reasons. As a result, many family pets end up being surrendered to animal shelters and either rehomed or euthanized. Fortunately, there are options to avoid this with advance planning. One of the best options is to create a pet trust.
Although we consider our pets to be members of the family, pets are considered property under Georgia law. They can be bought, sold, and gifted during one’s life and left in a will at death. While a person cannot leave any assets in their estate directly to their pets, they can set up a trust to provide for the care of their animals for the duration of the lives of those animals.
A pet trust sets aside money to care for your pets, a caretaker for the pets, a trustee to manage the money for the benefit of the pets, and a beneficiary for any money remaining after the trust ends. The named caretaker can be a person or an organization. The trustee may be the same, or it could be different from the caretaker, in order to provide more oversight over the funds and reduce the possibility of fraud. The terms of the trust are enforceable in court so that if the caretaker or trustee does not fulfill their responsibilities under the trust, the court will either require them to do so or remove them and appoint a successor.
Pet trusts also allow you to provide specific guidance for your caretaker as to how you would like your pets to be cared for throughout their lives, as well as final instructions regarding burial or cremation of your pets.