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What is a pet trust and why make one?

Hubbard Snitchler & Parzianello

Estate planning is an important way to ensure that the needs of your family in Michigan are taken care of even after your death. But what about your beloved animal companions? 

There are a number of different ways to include a pet in your estate planning, each with potentially different results. One of these ways that you may not have heard of is a pet trust. 

What is a pet trust? 

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals provides some helpful information about what exactly a pet trust is. It is like any other trust, except that the named beneficiary is actually your pet. With a pet trust, you can specify how much money should be spent to care for your pet and provide those funds, you can state how often the trustee must inspect the pet, specify a standard of living for the pet and identify the pet to every detail, including with microchips. 

Other advantages of a pet trust 

Because a pet trust is a legally sanctioned arrangement, the named parties must follow it exactly under penalty of law. It also allows some flexibility that a will does not. For instance, you can name a remainder beneficiary who will receive any leftover funds after your animal finally does pass. 

You can get very specific with a pet trust, even to the point of requiring that the animal’s remains be disposed of in a certain way. A pet trust can last for the animal’s lifetime or for 21 years, whichever comes first. 

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