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Family Pets and Estate Plans: Setting Up a Pet Trust

A headline making its viral rounds on social media is that, “Seven Persian Cats in South Tampa are Now Living Off a Six-Figure Inheritance.” You read that correctly. Their owner, Nancy Sauer passed away six months ago and was survived by her beloved fur babies, now affectionately known as the “Aristocrats.” This raises an excellent question: what plan do you have for your pet? Here at Every & Stack we take all your family into consideration when building your Estate Plan. Pets are family to us, but under Florida Law they are considered property and must be included in your Estate Plan.

Thanks to a well-executed Estate Plan, Cleopatra, Goldfinger, Leo, Midnight, Napoleon, Snowball, and Squeaky are set for life; anything they will ever need will be provided thanks to Sauer’s careful and thoughtful preparation.

Three things you need to ensure your pet is well provided for are a good caretaker, a will, and a pet trust.

Choose a Caretaker

This is a hard question, but one that must be answered in order to build your pet plan. Don’t just choose anyone; make sure you discuss your wishes with loved ones and make sure you designate someone willing and wanting to take on this kind of responsibility. In Sauer’s case, the fluffy felines are under the care of the Humane Society and will be adopted out; a fund was established to cover all costs, from food to vet bills. Where do you see your beloved pet living if something happens to you?

Include Pets in Your Will 

Pets are considered property under Florida Law. Even in divorce cases, custody arrangements cannot be granted by a court for pets. A will documents all your final wishes, and with that you can designate someone to be their caretaker. This won’t legally bind anyone to care for your pets but it does grant them caregiver/ownership. Setting up a trust for your pet is the next step which will guarantee the money set aside for their care is spent specifically for their care. Leaving your favorite Aunt Fido and $10,000 to care for him doesn’t guarantee it will be spent on Fido.

Set up a Pet Trust

Trusts provide a legal obligation that the money is spent as designated by you. As with any trust you have the flexibility to set parameters for what is done with the funds. Under Florida Law, property in the trust must be applied for its intended use and is enforceable by a court of law. Having both a will and a trust safeguards that your pet is not just in good hands but that those hands are using the money to provide a good life for your pet.

Every & Stack are Here to Protect Your Legacy

The experienced attorneys at Every & Stack can advise you on the best ways to address your legacy concerns, including transferring financial and real property assets, estate tax avoidance, guardianships for minor children, and support for philanthropic causes. We will draft an estate plan that works for you and protects your legacy.

Call today to schedule a consultation at our Daytona Beach office at 386-255-1925, or contact us online. We serve clients in Daytona Beach and throughout Florida.

Florida Woman Leaves Inheritance, Tampa Estate to Her 7 Persian Cats

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