A pet trust ought to be included as part of any excellent estate plan, simply as a will, POS, HCP, and LW are the minimums everyone need to have. The Helmsley debacle described some problems in her Animal Trust and will. Good drafting goes a long way.
Your customers do not need to be abundant to take care of your family pet(s) after passing away. Almost all states have enacted pet trust statutes licensing the creation of trusts for pets. The New York Legislature passed its animal trust statute in 1996 to allow individuals to create enforceable trusts for the care of domestic or pet animals in the Estates, Powers and Trust Law Article 7. In addition, the Uniform Probate Code and the Uniform Trust Code each have sections licensing family pet trusts. Like Helmsley’s attorneys, I practice in NY, however extremely differently.
I have seen MANY MANY pet dogs and felines brought to the shelter (I am an animal rescuer and an attorney) after their owner passed away, and they were dying of heartbreak themselves. Going from a warm, loving, tidy, quiet house, regular walks and/or a yard, a deck to sun on, and so on to a foul-smelling, unclean, noisy shelter and being stuck in a cage 24/7 is torture for them, and checking out their eyes, you can not help however weep. A lot of these animals end up euthanized, too old, and too frightened looking when possible adopters appear, to be adopted.
We all know that wills have actually to be drafted a certain way so that bequeaths are guaranteed, not a “wish, hope, objective declaration” and so on. Furthermore, leaving discretion to the executors for donating cash with flexibility to choose any charity is not the ideal method either, if the testator desires to make sure the bequeath goes to a particular group of charities, such as animal charities. Far, really bit, if any, of the Helmsley bequeath to charities has gone to animal charities, in spite of her wishes. The executors picked other charities however that is not what she longed for. This was in Fortune magazine’s “101 Dumbest Moments in Company of 2007.” In a statement released in Feb 2009, Howard J. Rubenstein, a spokesman for the trustees, stated they planned to start making grants from the trust the next month. “In the hope that this would be the court’s decision, the trustees have been diligently working to determine possible beneficiaries so that the trust’s funds would be put to ideal use as quickly as possible in such areas as health care, medical research, human services, education and various other areas,” Mr. Rubenstein said, specifically preventing the mention of pet dogs.
Learn from others’ mistakes. With Family pet Trusts, that part of the estate plan ought to be drafted with the same idea in mind. Leaving too much for the pet, “hoping” the rest goes to animal charities, is likewise to be avoided. The administrators can petition the NY Surrogate’s Court for approval to decrease the quantity passing to the pet trust (Helmsley’s administrators dropped the $13 mil to $2 mil).
Your customers do not have to be abundant. We understand this and how to take care of your animal(s) correctly. There are ways to give your family pets the finest life possible after you are gone (well, best life possible without you there). Furthermore, the customer can save money and in fact plan for their family pet(s) without creating a “trust” if they have the right type of people in their lives (although as a lawyer, I advise lawfully binding plans).
An animal trust can be an inter vivos trust, developed throughout the life of the pet owner. Or it can be a testamentary trust under a will, reliable after death.
An inter vivos trust has the benefit of being right away available for the care of an animal if the family pet owner becomes incapacitated. The inter vivos trust has the downsides of being more expensive to produce, and in many cases, of not being effectively funded (or not funded at all) at the time of death of the family pet owner. If the animal owner desires an inter vivos trust, it is wise to have back-up financing of the animal trust in the will, to prevent the threat of having an unfunded, and therefore worthless, trust at the time of death. Mrs. Helmsley’s animal trust was an inter vivos trust, but was funded from her will.
A testamentary pet trust is funded under the will. The downside of a testamentary trust is that it will not be in effect throughout durations of disability, so pet owners should have their lawyer perform a power of attorney selecting an attorney-in-fact to handle the owner’s monetary matters, (consisting of a specific provision authorizing the payment of the costs of care of the pet owner’s animals) to be utilized if the pet owner becomes incapacitated. We advise a power of attorney anyway as one of the 4 essential documents everyone should have (will, living will, and health care proxy, with a 5th, the Pet Trust, for animal owners. )The attorney should also be a plan for the care of the pet throughout the duration from death to the admission of the will to probate.
As with numerous circumstances (such as guardianships for psychologically challenged people) there need to be numerous alternates (back-ups).
If you do not know anybody ideal, there are lots of animal rescue groups that can take your pet into a foster home and let the pet live out his/her life span. Of course, you wish to leave them $10K, $15K.
You may want to prepay a high-coverage veterinary insurance coverage for the family pet, and I advise this to older customers, even if usually they would refrain from doing so in life (I have it for some pets of mine, however not others). This is especially true if the pet(s) has a medical condition(s), and the customer is the kind of individual who would not balk at $1,700 for knee surgical treatment for the pet. Some trustees might decide it is too expensive and disregard to give the pet care while she suffers (let’s say, from a torn ligament (torn knee in among my pets presently) or euthanize.
If there are a large # of family pets, the testator can leave somebody the house and family pets so the family pets don’t have to move, specifically reliable if there are a large # of animals. The testator needs to likewise leave enough loan for upkeep of your house and animals (Long Island has very high property taxes-could be $15K a year on a $600-$900K home)
Write something like Mrs. Jane Smith’s Animals” not “Lucy, Money, Molly …” in the documents considering that animals change (death, adding family pets, etc.) so the document lives.
What matters is that the testator pick an attorney who not just understands the law but is an animal lover and animal rescuer and sees all the ramification of other attorneys’ mistakes.