Pet Trusts Attorneys in Chesterfield, MO

Experienced and Reputable Pet Trusts Attorneys in Chesterfield, MO

More than four million dogs and cats are euthanized at shelters each year. That is almost 10,000 pets put down per day. Over 500,000 pets were euthanized this year because their owners died or became incapacitated and left them behind without enforceable estate plans. Luckily, Missouri is one of nearly 40 states which specifically authorize the creation of a trust for the care of an animal.

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When considering the inclusion of a pet trust in your estate plans there are a number of issues to consider:

•Who will care for the pet?

•Who should manage the trust fund?

•What are your expectations for the appropriate standard of care for your pet?

•How much money should you set aside to ensure your pet’s proper care?

•How will the funds be distributed to the caregiver?

•Who should receive any funds remaining in the trust after the pet’s death?

It is vital that pet owners create legal documents that protect the welfare and security of family pets and all animals.

Why Create a Pet Trust?

By law, animals are considered property and as a result they cannot legally inherit. While many of us consider our pets to be a part of the family, the courts will simply not uphold a clause in your Will which purpose is to leave money directly to your pet. Furthermore, the Probate process can be a long one and terms of your Will are not carried out until the Court has approved all of those terms. What is your pet to do in the meantime?

Furthermore, once the Probate estate is closed and the funds are distributed, there are no lingering legal obligations and the funds you left to your cousin to care for your dog could easily and legally be spent for his new RV and your beloved golden retriever is now being euthanized at the pound.

When the pet trust is a free standing document and NOT incorporated in your will, your pet trust would remain valid in all states. The courts are not authorized to change your instructions in free standing pet trust.

What Makes Up a Pet Trust?

The pet trust contains the same fundamental elements as your family trust. Its express purpose is establishing continued care for pets should you not be around to do so. The trust can also be designed to account for additional or different pets that you might have in the future. This alleviates the concern of revising your trust with the addition of new pets.

Missouri statute 456.4-408 provides for a legal trust for care of animal:

Trust for care of animal. 456.4-408.

1. A trust may be created to provide for the care of an animal alive during the settlor’s lifetime. The trust terminates upon the death of the animal or, if the trust was created to provide for the care of more than one animal alive during the settlor’s lifetime, upon the death of the last surviving animal.

2. A trust authorized by this section may be enforced by a person appointed in the terms of the trust or, if no person is so appointed, by a person appointed by the court. A person having an interest in the welfare of the animal may request the court to appoint a person to enforce the trust or to remove a person appointed.

3. Property of a trust authorized by this section may be applied only to its intended use, except to the extent the court determines that the value of the trust property exceeds the amount required for the intended use. Except as otherwise provided in the terms of the trust, property not required for the intended use must be distributed to the settlor, if then living, otherwise to the settlor’s successors in interest.

In our estate plans we go through painstaking detail determining who is to receive grandma’s ring, the painting in the hallway, or dad’s 1968 Chevelle, but we do nothing protect what we otherwise have always bragged of being “a member of the family.”

For a free consultation on the most appropriate estate plan for you and your family, please contact Michelle White at The Roberts Law Firm, P.C..

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