How Does a Pet Trust Work in Florida?
Providing for your children, your two-legged children, is important. It is so important, that even if you never seem to get around to creating formal estate planning documents, the State of Florida has your back. The law assumes that parents who die intestate—without a valid will or trust—still want to provide for their children. Toward that end, Florida intestate statutes establish that your estate will be distributed first to your surviving spouse, if you have one, and then your children. And in some cases, your surviving spouse and your children will actually share your estate.
But what about your other children, the four-legged, snuggly ones? The ones that don’t talk back, don’t ask for money, and don’t stay out all night with their hooligan friends? The ones that seem to know, even when no one else is paying attention, that you just had a really rotten day? What about your pets? Unlike your human children, there are no intestate statutes that provide for your pet children if you don’t get around to doing it yourself. But Florida does allow you, the pet parent, to create testamentary documents providing for the care of your little loved ones should you pass before your babies.
But you must take steps now and provide for your pets through a Pet Trust.
How does a pet trust work?
In a pet trust, you designate funds to be used specifically for the care and welfare of your pet after you pass away. The funds set aside for that purpose may only be applied to that intended use. In other words, the money set aside for your pet must be used to care for your pet. You also designate a person to act as trustee over these funds. In other words, you establish the caretaker for your pets using the money you set aside.
A pet trust gives the caretaker legal right to the money you set aside and the power to enforce your wishes concerning your pet. The trust lasts for the life of your little ones, so you can rest easy knowing they will be cared for as long as they live. You will also want to have direction to your Trustee, so they will know what to do with the leftover funds once your furry little ones have joined you on the other side.
How do you create a pet trust?
In the state of Florida, a trust established that is intended to take effect after you die must be created properly and executed with specific formalities, or the trust is not valid. The best way to make sure your desires for your pets are enforced is to have a trust drafted by an estate attorney. They will ensure that the proper statutes are followed, and the proper formalities are carried out, greatly reducing the possibility of an error or misinterpretation of your intended wishes following your death.
You have a pet trust established in another state, is it viable in Florida?
The state of Florida honors all testamentary documents created in other states, as long as they are executed with the proper formalities and conform to Florida law. If you have moved here and still have an out-of-state trust, it is always a good idea to visit a lawyer and understand how your trust will be treated after you pass.
You have a pet trust established in Florida, is it viable in another state?
You are lucky to live here in Florida! Not every state has pet trust legislation. If you decide to leave Florida, you will want to visit a lawyer in your new home state and find out whether your trust is enforceable or if changes will need to be made.
Once a pet trust is created, then what?
Like all trusts, once properly created, a pet trust will last until it is needed. However, it is a good idea to review your testamentary documents yearly. Changes in the law, changes in your life, and changes in the lives of your children could affect your testamentary scheme.
You spent your life working to care for your children while you were alive, and it is important to provide for their care after you pass. Take the time now to make the provisions for all of your children, whether they walk, crawl, trot, slither, fly, or swim. If you have questions, contact us today. We can help.