With more than half of America's homes having at least one companion animal, it is no surprise that animal law is one of the two fastest growing areas of legal interest. As providing for the future becomes one of the major concerns for the millions of baby boomers engaged in estate planning, the importance of animal welfare has also grown.
Establishing a pet trust for a beloved animal should be considered an important part of an estate plan. Texas is one of the 46 states that allow individuals to establish a pet trust through their wills.
In fact, one of the most popular books detailing the issues to keep in mind while creating the trust and including pets in wills was drafted by a Texas Tech University School of Law professor, in conjunction with another estate planner.
A properly established pet trust can be very specific about a pet's care requirements. A pet trust can circumvent the situation where a named caretaker can no longer take care of the pet for financial or personal reasons. In addition to this, an accurately drafted trust document can prevent a caretaker from withdrawing money from the decedent's estate for the pet's care long after the pet passes away.
Unfortunately, there are documented cases of caretakers either forcing pets to survive on life support or presenting a similar looking animals to inspectors so they may continue to collect money for their care.
Without proper provisions, animals are taken to shelters after their owners pass on. Their lives are uprooted as they go from being a faithful companion to an orphan in a matter of days.
Texas residents contemplating their estate plans should remember to include their beloved animals in their wills and provide for their future. Seeing the value of including pets in an estate plan shows the importance of working to create a thorough, iron-clad will and trust.
Source: Tahoe Daily Tribune, "Assure your pet survives you in good hands," Dawn Armstrong, Aug. 1, 2012