Pet Trust - Cortes Law Firm

Today we're gonna talk about the five mistakes people usually make when leaving assets to their pets.

Hi, this is Steve Cortes, and I'm an attorney at the Cortes Law Firm. A pet trust is an excellent way to make sure that your beloved pet will receive proper care after you pass away. The problem, of course is, that you won't actually be there to see that your wishes are carried out. So it's critical to set up a pet trust correctly to ensure that there are no loopholes or unforeseen situations that could make your plans not work out the way you want it to. So here are five mistakes that we see people make.

The first is putting too much money in the pets care. The gossip stories about this celebrity or that celebrity who left his entire estate to a pet are the exception rather than the rule. Leaving millions of dollars, houses and cars to your pet is just unreasonable, but it's more likely to be contested in court by family members who might feel neglected. So to avoid this pitfall, come up with a reasonable amount of money. Figure out how much it costs for them to live on a yearly basis.

The second is providing vague or unenforceable instructions. Too many pets don't receive their care that their owners intended because they weren't specific enough in their instructions or because they did not use a trust to make sure that the instructions were binding. Luckily, a pet trust can clarify your instructions and make them legally valid. If you leave money to a caretaker without a pet trust in place, hoping it will be used for the pets care, for example, nothing stops that caretaker from living very well on the pet's money. But when you use a pet trust to designate how much the caretaker receives and how much goes for the pets care, you've provided a legal structure to protect your pet. You can be as specific about your wishes as you'd like, from how much it should be spent on food, veterinary care and grooming, you can even include detailed care instructions such as how often the dogs should be walked.

The third pitfall is failing to keep information updated. So let say Bill set up a pet trust for his dog. But what happens if his dog passes away? If Bill gets a new dog that's name Gypsy, but he doesn't update this information before he dies, Gypsy could easily end up in a shelter because she's not specifically mentioned in the trust. This is a common, yet tragic mistake that can be easily avoided by performing regular reviews of your estate plan with your estate planning attorney to make sure that your plan works for your entire family, including your pet.

The fourth mistake we see is not having a contingency plan. You might have trusted a friend or a loved one, somebody in your family, to take care of your pet, but what happens if that person is unable or simply unwilling to take care of your dog or your pet? If you haven't named a contingent caretaker, you're pet may not receive the care that you intended. So always have a plan B in place and spell it out in the trust.

The fifth mistake that we see is not engaging professional help. Too many people make the mistake of trying to set up a pet trust themselves, assuming that a form downloaded from a do-it-yourself legal website will automatically work in their circumstance. Only an experienced estate planning attorney should help you set it up to make sure that everything worked exactly the way you wanted and that your pet is protected.

When attempting to leave assets to your pet, the good news is that with professional help, all of these mistakes are preventable. Talk with us about setting up the options for your new pet trust or adding a pet trust to your current estate plan. We're here to help.

So, if you have any questions about setting up a pet trust for your beloved pet, please don't hesitate to give us a call. We're here to help.

That's all for today and we'll see yeah next time. Thanks.

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