A pet trust needs to be consisted of as part of any great estate plan, just as a will, POS, HCP, and LW are the minimums everyone need to have. The Helmsley fiasco described some problems in her Animal Trust and will. Good drafting goes a long way.
Your customers don’t have to be rich to look after your animal(s) after passing away. Nearly all states have enacted pet trust statutes authorizing the production of trusts for pets. The New York Legislature passed its pet trust statute in 1996 to permit individuals to create enforceable trusts for the care of domestic or pet animals in the Estates, Powers and Trust Law Post 7. Additionally, the Uniform Probate Code and the Uniform Trust Code each have sections licensing pet trusts. Like Helmsley’s attorneys, I practice in NY, but extremely differently.
I have seen MANY MANY pets and felines brought to the shelter (I am an animal rescuer and a lawyer) after their owner passed away, and they were dying of heartbreak themselves. Going from a warm, caring, tidy, peaceful home, routine strolls and/or a yard, a deck to sun on, and so on to a smelly, unclean, loud shelter and being stuck in a cage 24/7 is abuse for them, and checking out their eyes, you can not help but cry. A lot of these pets wind up euthanized, too old, and too afraid looking when prospective adopters appear, to be adopted.
We all understand that wills need to be drafted a specific way so that bequeaths are certain, not a “desire, hope, objective declaration” etc. Additionally, leaving discretion to the executors for contributing money with freedom to pick any charity is not properly either, if the testator wants to ensure the bequeath goes to a specific group of charities, such as animal charities. Far, extremely bit, if any, of the Helmsley bequeath to charities has actually gone to animal charities, despite her desires. The executors picked other charities but that is not what she wanted. This was in Fortune magazine’s “101 Dumbest Moments in Service of 2007.” In a statement issued in Feb 2009, Howard J. Rubenstein, a spokesperson for the trustees, said they prepared to begin making grants from the trust the next month. “In the hope that this would be the court’s decision, the trustees have actually been diligently working to determine potential beneficiaries so that the trust’s funds would be put to optimal use as soon as possible in such areas as healthcare, medical research, human services, education and various other areas,” Mr. Rubenstein stated, pointedly avoiding the mention of pets.
Learn from others’ errors. With Family pet Trusts, that part of the estate plan should be prepared with the exact 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 consent to reduce the amount passing to the family pet trust (Helmsley’s administrators dropped the $13 mil to $2 mil).
Your clients do not need to be abundant. We understand this and how to look after your family pet(s) correctly. There are methods to give your family pets the best life possible after you are gone (well, best life possible without you there). In addition, the customer can save money and in fact plan for their family pet(s) without producing a “trust” if they have the right kind of individuals in their lives (although as an attorney, I recommend legally binding strategies).
A pet trust can be an inter vivos trust, developed throughout the life of the family pet owner. Or it can be a testamentary trust under a will, reliable after death.
An inter vivos trust has the benefit of being instantly offered for the care of an animal if the pet owner becomes incapacitated. The inter vivos trust has the disadvantages of being more expensive to create, and in some cases, of not being sufficiently moneyed (or not funded at all) at the time of death of the animal owner. If the family pet owner desires an inter vivos trust, it is a good idea to have back-up financing of the family pet rely on the will, to prevent the threat of having an unfunded, and therefore ineffective, trust at the time of death. Mrs. Helmsley’s family pet trust was an inter vivos trust, but was funded from her will.
A testamentary animal trust is funded under the will. The disadvantage of a testamentary trust is that it will not be in result during periods of impairment, so pet owners should have their lawyer execute a power of attorney selecting an attorney-in-fact to handle the owner’s financial matters, (consisting of a particular provision licensing the payment of the expenses of care of the pet owner’s animals) to be utilized if the animal owner becomes incapacitated. We suggest a power of attorney anyhow as one of the 4 essential files everyone should have (will, living will, and health care proxy, with a 5th, the Pet Trust, for family pet owners. )The attorney needs to likewise be a prepare for the care of the pet during the duration from death to the admission of the will to probate.
As with many circumstances (such as guardianships for mentally challenged human beings) there ought to be a number of alternates (back-ups).
If you do not understand anybody ideal, there are lots of animal rescue groups that can take your pet into a foster home and let the animal live out his/her life expectancy. Obviously, you desire to leave them $10K, $15K.
You may wish to prepay a high-coverage veterinary insurance plan for the pet, and I suggest this to older customers, even if typically they would refrain from doing so in life (I have it for some canines of mine, but not others). This is particularly true if the animal(s) has a medical condition(s), and the client is the type of person who would not balk at $1,700 for knee surgical treatment for the family pet. Some trustees might decide it is too expensive and neglect to provide 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 big # of animals, the testator can leave someone your home and animals so the family pets don’t need to move, especially reliable if there are a big # of family pets. The testator should also leave adequate cash for maintenance of the home and animals (Long Island has really high property taxes-could be $15K a year on a $600-$900K home)
Write something like Mrs. Jane Smith’s Animals” not “Lucy, Loan, Molly …” in the documents given that animals change (death, adding pets, and so on) so the document lives.
What matters is that the testator select an attorney who not just understands the law however is an animal fan and animal rescuer and sees all the ramification of other lawyers’ errors.