Estate planning is designed to provide for the disposition of assets and care of family members after death. As part of that planning, many people are creating trusts for their pets. Washington, D.C. is one of the jurisdictions that recognize pet trusts for the care of a person's pet upon death.
Admittedly, one of the last things that people may think about when preparing their estate plan is what will happen to their pet. However, it is a very real concern. Making the assumption that a family member or friend will readily step up and take in a person's pet when that person dies often backfires.
There are some people who will provide for their pet in their will, but this may not be sufficient. It could take some time for the provisions of the will can be carried out. Additionally, a will is only valid upon the death of the maker.
If a trust is created specifically for the care of the pet in Washington, D.C., it can be used either when the owner becomes incapacitated or dies. It can also be used immediately. The trustee will have already agreed to take care of the pet and the trust can be funded with whatever amount of money is necessary to take care of the pets needs.
Determining how much money to put into pet trusts depends on the animal for which the trust is created. If a pet has specific needs, how to care for those needs can be spelled out in the trust and the money necessary to provide for those needs can be put into the trust. In the end, what's important is that both the owner of the pet and the owner's family has the peace of mind that there is a plan in place.
Source: kiplinger.com, "Put a Plan in Place to Ensure Pets' Care," Eleanor Laise, June 16, 2013