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For many people approaching estate planning, the term “pet trust” is entirely new. A pet trust, however, is essential if you desire to make any arrangements and set aside any money in a trust for the care and wellbeing of your pet. Because pet trusts are not as common as wills and trusts, some wonder whether they are necessary in comprehensive estate planning. Here is a look at why you might need a pet trust in your estate planning.

Care for every family member.

When you consider what family members do to take care for their spouses and children in their estate planning, along with how many families consider their pets to be a part of the family, a pet trust makes a great deal of sense. A pet trust is a great way for any family with a beloved pet—cat, dog, horse, or otherwise—to make some precautionary arrangements for the pet should the worst happen. A pet trust is especially advantageous for companion pets that have longer lifespans, such as horses and parrots.

Allow pet care to continue uninterrupted.

It’s important to remember that a pet trust covers more than the possibility of death. A pet trust allows a grantor to make legally sanctioned arrangements that provide for the care and maintenance of one or more pets, and these arrangements may come into effect during the grantor’s lifetime if he or she becomes incapacitated. When the trust does goes into effect, the designated caregiver will typically begin receiving payments for the benefit of the grantor’s pet(s) on a regular basis. These payments will continue for the duration of the pet’s life or until the trust funds are depleted.

Ensure that your pet is cared for as you wish.

Beyond designating a caregiver and allocating funds to be distributed to that caregiver, you can be very specific regarding your wishes for your pet’s future care. You might, for example, designate how often you would like your dog to be taken to the vet, what type of food your cat prefers, or how often you would like your dog to be taken on a walk. Since you and your family know your pet best, it makes sense that your pet trust would include instructions to be given to the designated caregiver regarding your pet’s care.

Cover your bases.

If your pet passes away before the trust funds have been fully depleted, excess funds can be passed to other family members or loved ones. This means that even if the arrangements you make regarding pet care in your pet trust never go into effect, that money you have set aside can still be used according to your wishes.