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What is a Pet Trust?

Alabama law allows pet owners to create a trust specifically for the purpose of providing long-term care for their pets.[1] A pet trust will provide a legal guarantee that your pet will be taken care of according to your instructions. You will be able to name a guardian and leave money for your pet’s care all while leaving specific guidelines as to the care your pet should receive. Furthermore, a pet trust can be instrumental in continuing to provide care for your pet in the event that you may become incapacitated. This type of legal document would enable you to schedule visiting time with your pet as well as continue to have a say in their care and well-being.

Naming a Trustee and a Beneficiary

The trustee will have the responsibility of handling your pet’s financial matters.

This may be anything from daily feeding to medical and grooming bills. To create the most effective pet trust, the money left in the trust should be the calculated necessary funds until the end of your pet’s life. (Alabama law on when a pet trust ends).

The beneficiary will take care of your pet’s physical needs. It is important to name a beneficiary that your pet is comfortable with.

Additionally, you should consider the impact your pet will have on the name beneficiary’s daily life. Does the potential beneficiary have a busy lifestyle or have any pet allergies? You should discuss with the people you want to care for your pet to make sure they are willing and able to do so.

It may also be worthwhile to consider alternatives for the trustee and beneficiary in order to best prepare for all circumstances. When it comes to providing for your pet, having a backup plan or two is always a good idea to ensure your pet has the best care possible.

Fraud Against Your Fur Baby

Although a pet trust is an instrument for the legal protection of your pet, it is still susceptible to fraud. You can take steps against any fraud by specifying your pet’s name, breed, and age as well as a microchip number if applicable.

This will help protect your trust from cases of a replacement pet to keep payments from the trust coming. If one party believes that the other is not operating in good faith, they can go to court and enforce the terms you have set out. For that reason, it is important to choose a beneficiary who is different from the trustee as a way of providing checks and balances to your pet’s care.

While you have the option to leave a pet to someone in your will, you are still relying on the caregiver to follow your wishes in good faith. By establishing a pet trust, you can rest assured that your pet will be looked after if they might outlive you or your ability to care for them. A pet trust is a great way to protect your pet from inadequate care or from being moved to a shelter home.

[1] Ala. Code § 19-3b-408 (1975)

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