By: Angela C. Wetherby
When I meet with clients to discuss estate planning, many of those clients are very interested in learning more about how they might set aside certain assets in order to care for their surviving loved ones. Today, the term “loved ones” may not be limited to friends and family of the human variety; rather, some people want to provide for the care of their pet(s) in the event that their furry friend outlives them. One way in which to address this possibility is to create a trust for the benefit of the pet. In fact, Michigan law recognizes the validity of pet trusts. See MCL 700.2722. A pet trust allows the pet’s owner to designate certain assets and nominate a trustee to care for their pet during the lifetime of the animal if the animal survives the owner.
As might be expected, pet trusts require special consideration from an estate planning perspective, especially because different kinds of pets have different needs. For example, a pet trust benefitting an animal with a longer than average life span may be drafted much differently than that for a pet with a comparatively shorter lifespan given the fact that the former would presumably result in higher monetary costs. A pet owner wishing to create a pet trust should also consider adding some language to the trust document that provides for some mechanism of oversight with respect to the trustee given that the the pet would have no way to enforce the terms of the trust of its own volition in the event that the trustee is not doing his or her job correctly.
If you are interested in creating an estate plan or making changes to your existing estate planning documents, then I strongly encourage you to seek the assistance of legal counsel. The attorneys at Inosencio & Fisk, PLLC, have extensive experience in assisting clients in meeting their estate planning goals and objectives, including the preparation of the documents mentioned herein.
This website and the contents thereof is designed for general information only and information should not be considered as formal legal advice nor the formation of an attorney/client relationship. The purpose of this post is to provide a brief and general overview. It is important to consult with an attorney relative to whether a trust is right for you as there may be other estate planning options that are more suitable for your particular situation.
If you have any questions regarding estate planning, please contact Inosencio & Fisk, PLLC, at (517) 796-1444.