Whether pets are playmates of children or companions for older people, they are often regarded as part of the family. For that reason, many people have the same concern for the welfare of their pets if they should die, as they have for their children. Pet trusts have become the solution chosen by many New York residents to ensure continued care.
The pet owner, or grantor, can establish a trust which will be a legal arrangement to ensure uninterrupted care for his or her pet. A designated caregiver will be the trustee who will hold the funds that the grantor pays into a trust -- either in regular payments while he or she is still alive, or as an allocation at death. The trust will typically continue for as long as the animal lives.
A pet trust provides the owner of the pet the opportunity to be very specific about the care of the beloved companion. A trust agreement can include instructions to feed the pet its favorite food or special snacks, afternoon walks in the park and quarterly visits to the veterinarian. The trust can go into effect during the pet owner's lifetime if he or she should become injured, incapacitated, sick or comatose.
When considering the ongoing care of a beloved pet, it might be a good idea for the owner to discuss the matter with the potential designated person to ensure his or her willingness to accept the responsibility. The next step would be to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney. A lawyer who knows the legal requirements for pet trusts under New York laws can then provide the necessary guidance in drafting the required documents.