Caring for Your Pet After You Die

How can I make sure my pet is taken care of after my death?          

More than 79 million households across the country have a dog or cat.  Our pets are members of the family and ensuring they are provided for after death is a major concern for many pet owners.  Pets are considered personal property under the law, and while you can name who gets your pet in your will, you cannot disburse money for the care of your pet or enforce its proper treatment.  Instead, pet owners must create a trust that will distribute money to the pet’s named guardian after death the owner’s death or in the event the owner becomes physically unable to care for the pet.

Virginia’s Law on Pet Trusts

Recognizing the importance of providing for pets after death, Virginia passed its pet trust law in 2006.  The law, found in VA Code Ann § 64.2-726, allows for pet owners to create a trust to provide for the care of an animal during its lifetime.  The trust can be enforced by a person appointed in the trust document or by the court if no one is named.  Funds will be used solely as set out in the trust for the care of the animal. 

Benefits of a Pet Trust

Some owners may feel that a pet trust is unnecessary because they can simply ask a family member or friend to care for their pet if they die.  While this arrangement might work fine, it comes with considerable risk.  Only a legally enforceable document like trust will guarantee a pet’s secure future.  Informal vows made by family or friends may go out the window due to a host of reasons ranging from allergies and new additions to pet exclusions in condos and subdivisions.  For peace of mind and assurance your pet will be financially cared for by capable hands, a pet trust offers your best option.  Contact Virginia Beach and Williamsburg, Virginia estate planning attorney John Burton at (757) 301-9500 to schedule your free consultation today.
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