Yes, Texas law does allow people to plan for the care of their pets through pet trusts and other estate planning tools. A Texas pet trusts attorney can help you create the right documents to ensure that your beloved cats, dogs, and other pets will have the care they need in the event of an emergency and down the road, if your pets outlive you.
Pet Trusts in Texas
You have the option to provide for your pets in a traditional trust or a special type of legal device called a statutory pet trust. A pet trust lets you protect the pets that survive you, but not their offspring. When the last pet for whom you set up the pet trust passes away, the trust ends. A pet trust can be much simpler than a standard living trust, but that simplicity can lead to problems.
The amount of assets in a pet trust needs to be adequate for the remaining lifetime of the pet. Some animals, like cockatoos and macaws, can live over 100 years. Even with a typical lifespan of 50 to 70 years, the physical facility, food, veterinary care, and grooming a large bird for five to seven decades can add up to a tidy sum. It can be a challenge to find someone you can rely on to provide the safety and nurturing your pets deserve for such a long time. Many of these birds pass through two or three generations of owners.
Another error some pet owners make with DIY pet trusts is that they fail to designate a human beneficiary who has the responsibility for the pet and can enforce the terms of the trust. Also, the trust needs to contain a provision that states what will happen to any remaining assets after the demise of the last pet the trust covers.
You can provide for your pets through a traditional trust. Usually, these trusts go into effect upon the pet owner’s death, but it is possible to set up a trust that provides for your pets during your lifetime.
Let’s say that you want to do a tour of duty with the Peace Corps as a senior volunteer. You can set up a trust to designate a caregiver for your pets and fund the care. The caregiver is the legal beneficiary of the trust. The trustee will administer the assets and make sure that the caregiver acts for the benefit of the pets. The trust should include alternate or successor caregivers and trustees.
You can have a durable power of attorney that appoints an agent to take care of your pets and authorizes that person to use the necessary funds from your assets to pay for the animal’s food, grooming, veterinary bills, and other expenses. With this type of planning, your pet should not get abandoned and left to fend for itself if you have an emergency like an illness or injury.
If there is no other person in your home to care for your pets, you might want to consider carrying a pet information card in your wallet. First responders can contact the person you designate on the card to fetch your pet and take care of him for you.
Regardless of the type of paperwork you select to protect your pets, a Texas estate planning attorney can explain your options and write the documents to give you peace of mind about your cherished pets. Contact the Law Office of Carey Thompson for more information.