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Pet Trusts: Loving Your Pets Even After You Are Gone

Pet Trusts: Loving Your Pets Even After You Are Gone

We all love our dogs, cats, and other pets, and burying them can be one of the hardest moments we face in our lives. However, what do we do when they survive us? Do we have any options?

In most states, Indiana included, pets are treated as personal property under state law. That status prevents you from leaving them money in your will; after all, you couldn’t leave a lump sum of cash to your car or your living room sofa. However, in 2005 the Indiana legislature did make it easier to provide for your pets after your death.

Indiana Code § 30-4-2-18 makes an allowance for trusts created to care for animals. This statute allows a person to create a trust that will be devoted to the purpose of caring for any named animal that is alive at the time of the creator’s death. As a trust, the assets can only be used for the specified purpose of caring for the pet(s), meaning that no one can steal or waste the funds on anything other than care for your pet. Once the pet, or pets if you establish the trust for multiple animals, pass away, the trust will terminate.

There are some things you need to consider as you plan out such a trust. You should name a trustee to be responsible for caring for the pet(s). If you do not, the court will appoint one for you. Also, you should make provisions in your will for how the trust’s assets will be distributed once your pet dies and the trust terminates. Also, you need to make sure that you provide enough assets to last the pet’s entire lifetime.

If you prefer another option to a pet care trust, Purdue University has a program that may spark your interest. Purdue’s Peace of Mind program, which has been in operation for a quarter century, allows you to have your pet placed in a new, loving home and to ensure that all of the pet’s medical expenses will be covered by the university. The program allows you to set the parameters for your pet’s new home in your will, but it does require a bequest gift to the university’s School of Veterinary Science of $25,000 per pet.

If you have questions about these options or need assistance in drafting your Indiana estate planning documents or pet trust, please contact the estate planning attorneys at McNeelyLaw LLP.

This McNeelyLaw LLP publication should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion of any specific facts or circumstances. The contents are intended for general informational purposes only, and you are urged to consult your own lawyer on any specific legal questions you may have concerning your situation.

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