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Monday, February 12, 2018

What is a Pet Trust?

Illinois Estate Planning Attorneys

As pet owners, many of us know that our pets are like members of the family. We love and care for them, and they love and look after us. It is a truly wonderful and unique relationship. When thinking about the future and estate planning, we think of those in our life that we want to take care of and provide for after we pass away. Many people do not realize that there is a way you can provide for your pets through the estate planning process. Contact M&A Law Firm to discuss your estate planning options today.

What is a Pet Trust?

As of 2005, Illinois started to allow residents to establish trusts for their pets. Pet owners could put assets and instructions in place to provide for the continued care of their beloved animals after they die. Without specific instructions and money set aside specifically for the care of the animal, the future of pets is often uncertain. Some people choose to leave instructions for their pets in their wills, but this is not necessarily the most effective way to provide for your pet after your passing. Wills are intended to distribute property and instructions regarding your pet may be unenforceable. Just because your will directs a certain individual to care for and provide for your pet, does not mean they are obligated to honor your wishes. Additionally, wills are subject to the complex and time consuming probate process. A pet trust will avoid probate. The trust will take immediate effect upon your death or incapacitation.

The trust should designate a trustee and contain assets and other funds to provide for the pet. Additionally, instructions necessary for the care of the pet should be included. When establishing your pet trust, be mindful of the following:

  • Specifically identify the animal or animals you wish to be covered by the trust. The trust and its asses will only be applicable to those animals that are specifically identified in the trust document.
  • The amount to be held in trust: Illinois grants a judge authority to reduce the amount of money held in a pet trust if they find it to be excessive. A reasonable amount to be held in the pet trust will depend on the relative age and health of the pet along with the routine cost of care, food, and toys.
  • Think about what should happen to the remainder of the trust assets upon the death of the pet beneficiaries. If your pets should pass prior to exhausting the funds held in trust, then the remainder of the funds will pass to your heirs pursuant to Illinois laws. If you would like the money to be distributed in a different way, you may include such a directive in the trust document.

Estate Plans That Protect All of Your Loved Ones, Pets Included

The dependable, comprehensive estate plans we develop at M&A Law Firm, P.C. protect the future interests of all of your loved ones, pets included. Contact M&A Law Firm, P.C. today and begin designing an estate plan that will bring you the comfort of knowing your family will always be provided for in the way you wish. We proudly serve Cook County and Skokie, Illinois.


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