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Pet owners: What you should know about creating a pet trust

Pets are an important member of many Tennessee families. They are protectors, companions and best friends that are with us through good times and bad. Considering all that a pet can bring to your life, it can be crucial that you take steps to protect your pet should you pass away.

One way to do this is to create a pet trust. A pet trust is an estate planning tool you can use to set aside money or property for the benefit of your pet. Below, we examine some of the basic elements of this trust.

What a pet trust can do

Having a pet trust allows you to "give" money to your pet without actually putting an animal in charge. Your pet can be the beneficiary and you can dictate how the trust will provide care for the pet.

For instance, you might include direction on what type of food your pet should have, how often it should be taken outside and which veterinarian it should visit. You might also include specifications for housing accommodations and even burial arrangements.

Items to consider when creating your pet trust

If you decide to create a pet trust, you will want to consider a few critical items. First, think about who you will name as the trustee. It should be someone who is capable of managing the administrative and financial functions of the trust.

You might also consider assigning a guardian in an addition to the trustee. A guardian will care for your pet, while the trustee manages the trust. This can prevent abuse or fraud.

Finally, consider how much you actually want to put into the trust. It should be enough to cover all the needs of your pet for the rest of its life. However, if it's too much, then according to state law, the remaining property can be distributed to a successor in interest.

Without a pet trust in place, the fate and care of your beloved animal could be left in the hands of a stranger or someone who may not treat your pet as you would want. If you have a pet you wish to protect, then it can be wise to discuss a pet trust with your estate planning attorney.

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