Pet Trusts

LeidenPlanning for Your Pet’s Future – What to do if something happens to you.

Although we believe we will always be around to care for our pets, far too often pet lovers are faced with the unexpected; everything from a natural disaster to an accident or illness where the pet parent may be required to move from their home to an alternate or permanent care facility, become incapacitated, or die without addressing the ongoing care of their pets. There are numerous sad stories of pets that were overlooked when their owners became ill, had to be hospitalized, went to a nursing home or passed away. Tragically animals have run away or have been forgotten in the home of their owner. It is estimated approximately 500,000 pets are euthanized annually because pet parents didn’t have a plan for their pets. To prevent these unnecessary and tragic occurrences it is imperative to develop a written action plan for your pet in the event of an unexpected event or disaster.

Formulate your written action plan to include the following provisions:

Your written action plan starts with identifying at least two people, “pet caregivers,” who agree to be responsible for your pet if something happens to you, including incapacity, death or natural disaster. These trusted individuals should have access to your home, care and feeding instructions for your pet, the name and contact information for your veterinarian and written instructions for the long-term or permanent care of your pet including final plans for your pet in the event your pet should die. The individuals you choose can either be short-term, long-term or permanent caregivers depending on the plan you intend to implement for your pet.

Compile a notebook of information detailing the “baby sitter” instructions for each pet. These instructions should include a photo, identifying information, veterinary information, health records, feeding instructions, care requirements, etc. Assume your caregiver doesn’t know anything about your pet and you are leaving comprehensive instructions.

This notebook should be updated periodically and kept in a safe place with your other important estate planning and financial documents including Powers of Attorney, Health Care Directives, Living Trusts and Wills outlining the instructions to take care of you.

Include provisions in your estate plan to detail your wishes with regard to the care and disposition of your pets in the event of your disability or death.

Estate Planning Options:

There are a variety of estate planning options for you and your pets. Studies have revealed that somewhere between 12 and 25 percent of pet owners include their pets in their Last Will. Naming a pet as a beneficiary of a Last Will can be dangerous because pets are not permitted to inherit property and the time it takes to administer your Last Will through probate may interfere with the care needed by your pet. We recommend you consider either a stand by Pet Trust or a Stand Alone Pet Trust as part of your estate plan.

When planning for your pet, it is important to consider not only what will happen in the long term but what might be necessary in the immediate short term after the event that prevents you from caring for your pet.

Choosing a pet caregiver will be one of the most important aspects of planning for your pet. Make sure your nominated pet caregiver is on board with the decision. Then, make sure you have one or more additional persons or organizations that can act as a back-up if your first choice is unwilling or unable to provide lifetime care for your pets. Organizations like The Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando have worked with Peggy to develop programs for the lifetime care of your pets. The Pet Alliance program is called the Paws-itive Care Program. You can download their application here. There are also a growing number of other perpetual care organizations that can provide lifetime care for your pet. Ask us for more information.

Many people choose to leave their pet to a named individual without the creation of a Pet Trust. This may work, but there is no guarantee that person will be willing or able to provide the necessary care. Providing your pet caregiver with a sum of money is the next best option, but still provides no guarantee or oversight to ensure your pet is receiving proper care. Only a Pet Trust provides for a Pet Caregiver, a Pet Care Panel and a Trustee. Each person or organization fills a different role in the lifetime care of your pet providing peace of mind and additional checks and balances.

Animal law is a growing area of legal practice. Almost every area of law has an animal law aspect. Animal law can include criminal law, family law, estate planning, property law, entertainment law, disability law, just to name a few. Attorney, Peggy R. Hoyt is an animal advocate and concentrates a portion of her practice in animal law related to estate planning for pets and pet dispute resolution. Peggy is the author of All My Children Wear Fur Coats – How to Leave a Legacy for Your Pet and the Pet Lover’s Guide to Mediation. Peggy hosts a weekly radio program that airs on Pet Will Radio at Mixlr.com/PetWill on Mondays at 3 p.m. EST called All My Children Wear Fur Coats. Each week Peggy and her guests discuss issues relevant to pet owners and lovers. You can listen to archived shows by clicking here. Peggy is a co-founder of MyPetWill.com, an online Pet Trust creation program that provides peace of mind through a Stand Alone Pet Trust, personalized identification tag and an online Pet Profile. You can get more information at MyPetWill.com.

Pet Trusts Planning Process

Educational Workshop (Optional)
Join us in our classroom, for an interactive workshop designed to educate families about general estate planning principles, the federal estate and gift tax structures, and the importance of implementing and maintaining a relevant estate plan. We highly recommend you attend an educational workshop, but it is optional. Click here to see when our next estate planning workshop will be held. (Complimentary)

Discovery and Decision Dialogue
Discuss client and attorney commitments; you teach us about you and your family. We teach you about the law and how it affects your family. Then, together we can explore optimum planning solutions. (One and a half hour one-on-one consultation. Consultation Fee $200.00 – Applied to planning fee.)

Counselling and Design Meeting
We will work with you, your family, and advisors (optional) to custom design your plan. (1/2 of your fee is due.)

Signing Ceremony
We review and sign all drafted documents. (Remaining 1/2 of your fee is due.)

Asset Ownership and Protection; Updating, Education, Maintenance & Support can be provided at an additional fee.

Estate Security Plan (ESP)

You can’t predict the future, but you can plan for it!

Our ESP Program is designed specifically for those clients who want an updating, education and maintenance program to keep their estate plan relevant throughout the years. As a member of our ESP Program, you are entitled to assistance and education regarding the funding of your trust so your assets are titled correctly and your plan works effectively. You will also be invited to our Annual Client Meeting to hear updates on our firm and the law. Additionally, we offer family educational workshops for your beneficiaries and personal representatives so that they will know what to expect when administering your estate. ESP members are also encouraged to review their planning every three to five years and if there are changes that need to be made, you can update your plan at no additional cost.

Your participation in the Estate Security Plan includes all of the following services and benefits at no additional charge:

Funding/Asset Integration:

Asset Training Meeting – Financial Funding Forum™
To teach you the importance of fully integrating your assets with your trust instructions.

Asset Integration Assistance
To assist you as you acquire new or additional assets (up to 10 assets included – additional charge for additional assets).

Annual Asset Verification
To ensure that your trust remains fully funded.

Personal Instructions / Customized Instructions
For Health Care, Trustee Instructions for Children, Personal Property Memorandum, Memorial Instructions.

Education:

Nuts ‘N Bolts I
(Successor Trustee Training) – to educate you and your successors regarding roles and responsibilities as a Successor Trustee.

Nuts ‘N Bolts II
(Inheritance Training) – to educate beneficiaries of the long-term benefits of retaining assets in trust, including creditor protection, remarriage protection, divorce protection and values promotion, to name just a few.

Specialty Workshops
Check our website for our specialty workshops such as Retirement Planning, The Truth About Medicaid Planning, Planning for your Pets, Women In Transition, Special People Special Planning and What to Do When Someone Dies.
We also plan additional specialty workshops on topics of interest for ESP clients only.
Maintenance (Relationship)

Telephone Conferences and Email Correspondence
To provide support and assistance when needed or required.

Document Amendment Service
To respond to changes in your life: your family or personal situation, your lawyers experience, and your legacy.

Annual Client Meeting
To share with you the status of the firm and changes in the law that may affect your plan.

Client Update Program (CUP)
A periodic (every 2 to 3 years) update program to ensure that you are educated and your estate plan is current with changes in the law, changes in our experience and changes in your legacy. The program is conducted in a small group setting. For an individual update program, see Personal Update Program (P.U.P – $500).

Community Builder™ Programs
Fun events intended to include family members and provide an opportunity to share and develop our relationship on an informal basis. Events have included zoo outings, picnics and tailgate parties.

Family Focus™ Newsletter
To keep you updated on changing laws and upcoming events.

Family Meeting
To share your vision and your plan with your family.

Settlement:

Reduced fee settlement services
To assure your successors have disclosed and controlled settlement costs.

Survivor Support Program
To ensure your survivors have continued support, education, and counselling in their time of need. Update surviving spouse planning.

Additional Services:

The following services are offered to Estate Security Plan participants at a reduced fee.

Personal Counsel and Review ($500)
An individual one-on-one counselling review to discuss major changes in your personal or financial situation, such as divorce, retirement, inheritance, or other changed circumstances.

Personal Update Program (PUP – $500)
A periodic (every 2 to 3 years) update program to ensure that you are educated and your estate plan is current with changes in your life, changes in the law, changes in our experience and changes in your legacy. This program provides for personal one-on-one interaction with our attorneys, conducted in an individual setting.

Advanced Planning (10% discount)
Including Stand Alone Special Needs Trusts, Stretch Inheritance Trusts (IRA Trust), Charitable Trusts, Irrevocable Trusts, Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts (ILIT), Family Limited Partnership and Family Foundations, Business Succession and Exit Plans.