Why a Pet Trust May be “Man’s Best Friend”

Perhaps the richest dog in the world is buried in Westchester County, New York.  Leona Helmsley left Twelve Million Dollars for the care of her Maltese named “Trouble” and stipulated that Trouble would be entombed by Helmsley’s side in the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.

Obviously, that is an extreme example.  However, Helmsley’s story illustrates the powerful companionship between humans and pets.  As such, pet owners may wish to consider creating a trust to ensure that the pet is adequately cared for after their death.  The trust doesn’t need to include millions of dollars.  Instead, one can estimate the cost to care for the pet based on its expected life span and add a cushion.  Any funds left after the pet’s death can either go back into the grantor’s estate or be gifted to charity.  For example, Brooke Astor left $250,000 to the Animal Medical Center in New York City for the veterinary care of pets of poor and old people.

Creating a pet trust in New York is no different than creating another type of trust – an attorney drafts a simple trust agreement which is signed by the grantor (the person creating the trust), the trustee (the person managing the funds after the grantor’s death), and the person appointed to be the caretaker/guardian of the pet.

One of the benefits of creating a trust as opposed to simply gifting the pet to an heir together with a sum of money is that the trust agreement may specify the type of care for the pet.  For example, the trust agreement may specify the type of food to be provided, the number of veterinary “wellness” checkups, and even how the pet’s burial is to be handled.

If you have any questions about pet trusts, estate planning or any other trusts and estates related issue, please do not hesitate to call us at (914) 338-8050.

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The Law Offices of Keith R. Betensky, Esq.
The Empire Building
26 Village Green, Suite 4
P.O. Box 22
Bedford, New York 10506-0022
(914) 338-8050

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