Russ Cook & Associates, PC

A plan for Fido: pet trusts and estate planning

Estate planning is incredibly important for those with significant assets. The families left behind after the death of a loved one can take some comfort in financial security and be safeguarded from tax burdens.

For many of us, the family we leave behind is not made solely of human beings. Our pets are often just as important to our quality of life and give us as much love as the rest of our family. In the event of our death, we want to be sure those animals are taken care of and continue to have a good life.

Tennessee law offers an opportunity for individuals to do just that. Those who are creating an estate plan can establish a trust to provide for the care of an animal alive during the settlor's lifetime. The trust is terminated upon the death of the animal or, if the trust was created for more than one animal, the death of the last surviving animal.

Individuals can appoint a trustee, trust advisor, trust protector or other person. If no such person is appointed with the trust, a person can be appointed by the court. Additionally, anyone who has an interest in the welfare of the animal can request the court to appoint a person to enforce the trust or remove an appointed person.

There is quite a bit more that needs to go into an estate plan besides a pet trust, but this is one aspect to consider adding to your plan if you have a pet whose wellbeing you want to secure upon the event of your death.

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