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Planning For the Future of your Furry Friend

Updated: Jun 19, 2023

If you are a pet parent, you may wonder what will happen to your beloved furry (or scaley--we're not here to judge) friend after you are gone. Perhaps you adopted a dog or cat later in life, find yourself suddenly facing your own serious illness, or even have the type of pet or other animal that has a life expectancy longer than yours. (I am looking at you, horse and parrot people!) So while we're talking about your estate plan, perhaps you might consider this rarely-used device that can offer you and Fido some peace of mind.

A fluffy white poodle with groomer

Why You May Consider an Animal Care Trust in Kansas

Kansas Uniform Trust Code provides the allowable conditions under which you may create a trust to manage assets and estate-related tasks outside of the probate process. Section 58a-408 of the Code allows for the creation of a trust to provide for the "care of an animal alive during [your] lifetime." Just as you name a person to care for minor children's assets in your Will--and similar to creating a living trust for yourself or your loved ones--you may create a trust for an animal. The basic rules are fairly simple: the animal (or animals) must be alive when the trust is created and/or funded; and when the last animal dies, the trust terminates.

Perhaps you have a trusted friend or family member who is willing to provide a home for your pet, but what if they are unable to care for your pet for financial or other reasons? It is especially important to consider the financial burden of caring for a special needs pet (such as one who requires special diets, medication, or equipment) or one who consumes more food and space than a basic cat (such as a horse or Tibetan Mastiff). While your friend or family member can provide plenty of love, can they also afford raw food, hay, farrier services, transportation, or ongoing vet bills? A pet care trust can provide peace of mind by ensuring that your pet will be properly cared for after you are gone.

Put simply, an animal care trust is a legal document that allows you to create a plan for the care of your pet after your death. The trust will specify who will be responsible for caring for your pet as well as how much money will be available to cover the cost of care. The trust can also include instructions on your pet's diet, exercise, and veterinary care.

A chestnut horse's nose with bridle

Pet care trusts are not a new concept, but they have become more popular in recent years as more and more people consider their pets to be members of their family. In Kansas, pet trusts are valid and enforceable under state law just as other types of trusts under the Code.

Things to Consider Before Taking Action

If you are considering creating a pet or animal care trust, there are a few things you should keep in mind. First, you will need to choose a trustee who is reliable and trustworthy. The trustee will be responsible for managing the trust (and its funds) and ensuring that your pet is properly cared for. Second, you will need to decide how much money you want to put into the trust. The amount of money you need will depend on the cost of caring for your pet. Finally, you will need to specify your wishes for your pet's care in the trust document. This can be general guidance or a very specific care plan. Creating a pet care trust is a thoughtful and caring way to ensure that your beloved pet will be well cared for after you are gone.

If you are a pet owner in Kansas, I encourage you to ask me (or your own attorney) about creating a pet care trust as part of your estate plan. Some of the benefits of creating an animal care trust in Kansas include:

  • Peace of mind: Knowing that your pet will be properly cared for after you are gone can take away some of the feelings of guilt or worry if you find yourself close to death.

  • Flexibility: A pet care trust can be customized to meet your specific needs and wishes.

  • Cost-effectiveness: A pet care trust can be a simple add-on to your estate plan and a way to ensure that your pet is properly cared for by directing probate or non-probate funds (such as insurance) to it.

  • Provide care instructions: Within your pet care trust, you can clarify your wishes and instructions for particular care items your best friend might need.

If you are interested in creating an animal care trust, I recommend that you consult with an estate planning attorney--even if it isn't me! An attorney can help you understand the laws in Kansas and create a trust that meets your specific needs.

This post was created with the assistance of Bard, an AI solution from Google. Please alert the attorney to any copyright material you find within, so that she might provide feedback to Google during this beta test.

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