3 Practical Tips About Washington Pet Trusts

Oct 19, 2012  /  By: Geoffrey H. Garrett, Estate Planning Attorney  /  Category: Estate Planning, Pet Planning

The state of Washington created its pet trust laws in 2001. Since then, pet owners in the state can provide for their animals by developing a pet trust which would allow for the animal’s care after the owner dies. Pet trusts are relatively easy to establish, but you will want to keep in mind these tips as you go about deciding how best to provide for your pet with a pet trust.

Select the trustee with care

The trustee is the person you choose who will manage the trust property and provide for the pet’s needs. Trustees can be anyone you like, but ideally you should always ask those whom you want to serve in this position if they are willing to do so. Also, you should find several alternate trustees to include in the trust in case one or more of them decides not to take the position. If you don’t select the trustee on your own the court will have to do that for you.

Name all of your pets

The Washington pet trusts law allows you to establish a trust to provide for the care of any pets or other domesticated animal with vertebrae. If you have multiple pets it’s important to provide for each of them by naming them as beneficiaries in the trust. You can also include provisions for offspring of the pets, but only if those offspring are alive while you are.

Select a caregiver

It’s also important to name the caregiver in the trust. The caregiver is the person or organization who actually cares for the past, and is typically separate from the trustee. The trustee will ensure that the caregiver is providing the pet with the required care, and will pay for any expenses caregiver incurs in doing so.

Byrd : Garrett, PLLC is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.

Estate Planning for Your Furry, Four-Legged Friends: Part 3 of 3

Jan 23, 2012  /  By: Geoffrey H. Garrett, Estate Planning Attorney  /  Category: Estate Planning, Pet Planning

Continuing the discussion of estate planning to cover your beloved pets, this last blog within the three-part series covers the monetary considerations. You should make sure that you set aside enough funds within your trust or will to take care of your pet’s daily living needs and to cover unexpected events. If your pet becomes ill and requires extensive veterinary care, hospitalization or surgery, you want to make sure your pet trust covers these expenses.

If you decide that drafting a will and incorporating a specific bequest made to someone whom you trust can effectively address your concerns, you should make sure you leave this person enough money to take care of your pet. You can provide your beneficiary with a generous bequest to address your pet’s needs. By providing your beneficiary with a significant monetary or property bequest, you may be giving him extra incentive to take personal responsibility for the care of your animal.

Although a beneficiary to your will may not have to follow any written directives, you may feel better providing this individual with specific directions or instructions as to how he should properly address your pet’s medical and feeding needs. If your pet has special dietary restrictions or requires special veterinary care, you should leave detailed instructions for your pet’s caretaker.

 

 

 

Byrd : Garrett, PLLC is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.

Estate Planning for Your Furry, Four-Legged Friends: Part 1 of 3

Jan 15, 2012  /  By: Geoffrey H. Garrett, Estate Planning Attorney  /  Category: Estate Planning, Pet Planning

For many of us, our cats and dogs are family members. Most of us pet lovers care for our pets as we do our own children. Because of our love for our furry, four-legged friends, we should include them in our estate plan. You should consider where you would like your pets to go after you pass away. You should discuss your concerns and your desires with your family members and close friends. You should also make sure you properly plan for the continuing care of your pets by drafting specific estate planning documents.

Your estate planning attorney will help you plan for the care of your pets by drafting specific estate planning documents. Your attorney will help you reference your animals and make specific provisions for them in your will. Your attorney may also recommend that you set up a Testamentary Guardian Trust by naming a person whom you trust to take care of your pet. Your attorney may set up a testamentary guardian trust through your will by naming a guardian to take care of your animals. You can also include a specific provision in your will to ensure your pet will be taken care of after your death. You can find a humane society or adoption group that will take over your animal’s care after you die. If you are unable to locate a trustworthy guardian, you may want to consider asking for help from a humane society.

 

Byrd : Garrett, PLLC is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.

Estate Planning for Your Furry, Four-Legged Friends: Part 2 of 3

Jan 15, 2012  /  By: Geoffrey H. Garrett, Estate Planning Attorney  /  Category: Estate Planning, Pet Planning

A Testamentary Guardian Trust allows you to appoint a guardian to take care of your loved pet. To create a testamentary guardian trust, you must set aside a sufficient sum of money for your pet’s care. You must appoint a trustee to use your trust assets to take care of your animal’s needs. You must also appoint a guardian.

The person you name as your pet’s guardian or caregiver should be someone you trust and will take the responsibility seriously. If you trust this person to properly care for your pet and to use the extra money to care for your pet, instead of for his own personal gain, including your animal in your will may be a great solution. However, if you want to make sure that someone will be personally responsible for taking care of your pet after you die, you can set up a trust.

 

You can name an alternate guardian or caregiver who will be able to serve as the primary if the original appointment is unable to serve or is too ill to take care of your pet. Your guardian will be responsible for caring for your animal by providing it with food and medical care. Your trustee and guardian may be the same person, as long as this person is at least 18 years old.

 

 

Byrd : Garrett, PLLC is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.

Who Can Be My Beneficiary?

Jun 13, 2011  /  By: Geoffrey H. Garrett, Estate Planning Attorney  /  Category: Estate Planning, parents with young children, Pet Planning

If you’re like most people, you don’t give your will, trust, life insurance, or retirement account beneficiaries much thought.  You filled out the paperwork, signed the forms, and never looked back.  As you should update your estate plan every three to five years, you should review (and update as appropriate) your beneficiary designations as well.  You should review beneficiary designations to ensure that your named beneficiaries meet your current estate planning intent.  It’s also important that your beneficiaries can legally inherit.

It may sound odd to hear that some beneficiaries can’t legally inherit.  The two most commonly named beneficiaries who can’t legally inherit are minor children and pets.

The solution is simple:  Name a trust to benefit your beloved minor children and pets.

If you name a minor child or a pet as a beneficiary, the court will disallow the inheritance as provided.

  • The court will interfere and a guardian will have to be appointed to manage the assets until the child attains the age of 18.  This means that the court will continue to supervise the guardianship which is a hassle and costs money.  And, the child will receive all of the assets outright at age 18.  This may not be a good plan.

 

  • If you name a pet as a beneficiary, the court will disallow the gift and the assets will go to the remainder beneficiary of your estate.

Your estate planning attorney can help you choose the best beneficiaries to meet your goals.  If you wish to benefit a minor child or pet, the attorney will help you to make provisions for trusts for them (likely in your own revocable living trust.)

Your goals can be carried out, they just need to be carried out legally in order to work.

Be sure to review your beneficiary designations when you update your estate plan, every three to five years.

Byrd : Garrett, PLLC is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.

Planning for Your Pet in Washington

Dec 30, 2010  /  By: Geoffrey H. Garrett, Estate Planning Attorney  /  Category: Pet Planning

It has been possible in Washington since 2001 to leave a trust to care for your pet if the pet should outlive you . The legislature recognized that people did not want to leave the care of pets at their death or incapacity to whim or the possibility of the pet being euthanized.

The statute specifically states that its purpose is to validate pet trusts. The statute also requires in part

  • The animal or animals that are the beneficiaries of the trust are readily identifiable.
  • The trust terminates when the animal or animals that are the beneficiary of the trust die.
  • The grantor of the trust can name a trustee or a trustee can be appointed by the court.
  • Trust property is to be used for benefit of the beneficiary with the exception of expenses of the trustee to administer the trust.
  • Residual trust property after the death of the last beneficiary can be distributed as set out in the trust and if not designated returned to the grantor or the grantor’s successors.

The trust statute also has provisions for enforcement of the trust, removal of the trustee, and trustee powers. Due to the complicated nature of trusts, you should seek competent legal counsel for assistance in creating the trust. This is a trust like any other even though it is a trust for a pet or pets. It must be adequately funded and property must be properly titled or the trust will fail.

The Pet trust is a viable option for persons who do not have children to provide for a pet in the event they die before the pet. It also works well for persons who are animal lovers who have family members that are not pet lovers to make sure the animal is treated well.

Byrd : Garrett, PLLC is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.

Planning For Pets

Nov 22, 2010  /  By: Geoffrey H. Garrett, Estate Planning Attorney  /  Category: Pet Planning

Estate planning when properly done is an exercise in covering all of your bases, and some things are more obvious than others. It’s clear that you need to choose a potential guardian for your children when they are still dependents so that your wishes are known should both parents die together in an accident of some kind. But what about your four-legged dependents? Have you considered what would become of your pets if you were to pass away or become incapacitated?

Pet planning is a part of the comprehensive estate plan for animal lovers, and one way to make sure that they will be properly cared for in any eventuality is to address the matter in your will. You name someone to act as the caregiver, and of course this is an important choice. It is a good idea to speak to your family members and friends to find out who is the best fit and make a wise selection. Once you find a willing and able caretaker this person should ideally spend some time with the pet regularly so there will be some familiarity there to make the future transition less painful. The pet owner will typically provide a bequest to the caretaker to cover the expenses that go along with caring for an animal.

Another estate planning tool for the pet owners is the pet trust, which works in a manner that is similar to other types of trusts. You place funds in the trust and name a caretaker and a trustee. The caretaker provides the pet with a home and tends to its ongoing needs, while the trustee handles the trust assets and acts as overseer, making sure that the pet is being cared for in the proper manner. If you create a inter vivos trust while you are still alive, it can be utilized for the care of your pet should you become incapacitated or otherwise unable to take care of the pet’s needs.

Byrd : Garrett, PLLC is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.

3 Ways a Pet Trust Can Protect Your Pet

Jul 23, 2010  /  By: Geoffrey H. Garrett, Estate Planning Attorney  /  Category: Pet Planning

We’ve all heard the crazy stories about rich celebrities leaving ridiculous amounts of cash to their dog or cat. Yet, while we might not consider bequeathing our entire estate to our poodle, we do want to ensure that our beloved animals are well-cared for when we’re no longer around.

A pet trust can do just that. In fact, there are three unique ways that a pet trust will win out over a Will every time.

  1. Disability – A Will only becomes active upon your death so if you should become incapacitated, that Will won’t do you or Fluffy any good. A pet trust on the other hand is active from the moment you execute it so any provisions you’ve made to protect your pet can be implemented immediately. The trust is funded so the assets are already in place and no court order is needed to declare you incompetent.
  2. Enforceable – Even if you leave explicit instructions regarding your pet’s care in your Will, there’s no way to enforce them. Once the terms of the Will have been met and the estate is dissolved, the probate court will step out of the picture and the person you left in charge of your pet and the inheritance can do pretty much anything they want. But because the pet trust is an active document, the court can step in if the parties in the trust (your caregiver and your trustee) are not acting in accordance with the trust document. It creates a checks and balances system that ensures your pet doesn’t end up in a shelter while the caregiver enjoys an extended vacation.
  3. Specific – With a Will, you can leave Fido to your Aunt Susan and bequeath $10,000 to help provide for Fido’s care. With a pet trust, you can require Aunt Susan to keep Fido indoors during the summer months and you can also stipulate that Fido must be taken to the vet for an allergy shot once a month. If Aunt Susan doesn’t perform according to the terms of the trust, then the court can step in an appoint your alternate caregiver instead.

Of course, these aren’t the only advantages to having a pet trust. To find out more about protecting your pet, contact our office today.

Byrd : Garrett, PLLC is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.