Have you ever thought about what would happen to your pets if something happened to you and you could not care for them? I think we all need to have plans for that situation. I recently found out that there are legal means to protect your wishes for your pets. Melanie Pennycuff, who is in the legal professin, explains below:
This is a story with a happy ending that almost wasn't. Several weeks ago Lucky and Princess, an adorable pair of well-loved, middle-aged, mixed-breed dogs were taken to the Kendall County animal shelter after their doting owner suddenly and unexpectedly passed away. Their days were numbered and the outlook was grim—Kendall County is not a no-kill shelter and space is always extremely limited. Fortunately for Lucky and Princess, the local press got wind of their story, publicized the pups' plight and a loving home was found. Unfortunately, the clock is ticking away for other animals in the same position as Lucky and Princess.
Your pet provides you unconditional love and long-term companionship. In return, your pet relies upon you for everything. What if you are injured and can't care for your dog or cat? Will your pet be cared for when you die? The answers can only be provided by you by planning now. The sad fact is that every hour, 50 formerly loved pets are euthanized because their human companions didn't have plans.
In 2005, Illinois adopted a statute authorizing pet-care trusts. According to Chicago estate planning attorney Barry Kreisler, the new statute removed the uncertainties which previously existed and now makes providing for your pet in the event of death or incapacity very feasible for every pet owner.
An attorney experienced in estate planning can assist you in creating a trust for your pet through a living trust, which can provide pet care both immediately upon your death and in the event you become incapacitated, with no probate required. During your lifetime, you can be the sole trustee.
You don't have to be wealthy to protect your pet through a trust. You can change the trust at any time. You control any trust assets. And no assets need to be transferred to the trust at all; the trust can be funded initially with a beneficiary designation under life insurance or a retirement or 401 ( k ) plan.
'With a trust, you are the one who selects your pet's caregiver,' Kreisler said. 'A well-drafted pet trust is flexible. You may even designate a third person to make sure your pet trust's requirements are followed. That person would check up periodically and assure your pet is always given the quality of care that you would want. The trust can provide instructions in whatever detail you care to provide for your pet's care and lifestyle.'