Protecting Your Pets with a Trust

Throughout the ages domesticated animals of all types have been considered companions, pets, and even members of the family. The specialty markets that provide products for pets have continued to expand as people continue to redefine the position their pets hold within the household.  As a continuing testament to that, Illinois, under 760 ILCS, Sec. 15.2., offers trusts for domestic or pet animals.

pet trustAs with any estate planning, trusts are a viable option to protect your assets, and with that, your loved ones, including your pets.  Generally, a "”Trust” means a trust created by will, deed, agreement, declaration or other written instrument. Within that trust is a designated "Trustee" who provides for and regulates the administration of trusts.  Pursuant to the Section 3 of the Act, "[a] person establishing a trust may specify in the instrument the rights, powers, duties, limitations and immunities applicable to the trustee, beneficiary and others and those provisions where not otherwise contrary to law shall control, notwithstanding this Act." Thus, the trustee of the trust is granted specific powers either through the Trust and Trustees Act, or, if not in contradiction with the Act, then in accordance with the specific sections of the trust which a qualified estate planning attorney can assist you in creating. The "Beneficiary" of the trust is simply a person or persons who benefit from the creation of the trust. In the case of a Pet Trust, your pets would be the beneficiaries.

Just a few of the provisions under the Act state that The Pet Trust terminates when there is no longer a living animal covered by the trust.  Upon termination there is an established order in which the trust assets are distributed.  First and foremost is through the direction of the trust instrument. A legal professional can assist you in drafting a trust which deals with the distribution of any residual income or principal upon your pets passing.

The benefits of trusts are numerous and they serve a very important estate planning function.  Depending of the type of trust, you can shield assets from probate during life (adult guardianship) and probate at death, or even protect your assets from creditors.  For your pets, you can ensure that they are taken care of to your specifications and the Act prohibits any use of the trust principal or income except for the established purpose of caring for your pets.

If you are interested in safeguarding your assets and/or protecting your pets, seek out experienced legal counsel to assist you in establishing trusts to protect you in all of your estate planning needs.  Remember, a Pet Trust is but one of numerous trusts your attorney can help you to devise in order to protect your assets.  If you are in Illinois and you are interested in safeguarding your family's future, start now to develop a long-term relationship with a DuPage County estate planning attorney.  To schedule a consultation regarding setting up a Pet Trust or any other estate planning matter, call Stock, Carlson, Flynn, & McGrath, LLC at 630-665-2500 today.

Including Pets in Your Estate Plans

LauraIncluding your pets in your estate plan is a very important concept that can help to protect your furry family members if something happens to you. In Texas recently, two dogs were spotted roaming the streets for several months after their owner died. The dogs were seen by one community member, Geri Alexander, who finally took the dogs, named Ellie and Hannah, into her home to provide care. Alexander found the dogs emaciated near a discount store and took them to a local veterinarian, where she discovered that the micro chipped pets belonged to a now-deceased owner. The dogs had been in the woman's backyard when she passed away from a heart attack at a local hospital.

A comprehensive estate plan may include a will, trusts, medical directives, and powers of attorney. Including plans for pets, however, is something that many individuals don't think about. Determining where your pets fit into your estate plans can be discussed with your DuPage County attorney, and it can include ideas as simple as carrying around a card with the names of and details about your pets. If someone uncovers this information and something has happened to you, your pets may get some attention and comfort much more quickly. Those who wish to include more specific details should consider setting up a specific trust to fund the care of the animals.

Having a conversation with other family members or friends about your wishes and possible plans can be helpful, too. In the event that something happens to you, it can make the transition easier for your animals if they are cared for by a person they already know. If you would like to discuss your existing estate plan or the development of a new one, customized specifically for your needs, hire an attorney today. Retaining the services of an experienced Illinois estate planning lawyer can provide peace of mind and clarity for your plans.