Over the past several years, Massachusetts law makers have worked hard to improve the probate code to reflect issues faced by the modern day family. Once such update created a Pet Trust statute. Pet Trusts are a specific type of trust that allows you to leave money to be used specifically for the care of your furry friends if you were to pass away. Pets are important members of the family, and this trust can help ensure than they are cared for in a manner consistent with your wishes, as well as provide funds for their care and support after you pass away.
In a Pet Trust, there is a Trustee, who is responsible for managing the money for the care of your pets, and a Caretaker, who is the “guardian” of your pets. The Trustee reimburses the Caretaker for all reasonable expenses the caretaker incurs from caring for your pets. Pet Trusts cover many specific issues related to pet care, including cost of food, housing, grooming, veterinary care, pet sitting, burial or cremation fees, and liability insurance. The Caretaker is required to provide “proper care” for the pets, meaning the amount of care necessary to maintain each pet in good health, physically and emotionally. Some examples of proper care are a safe living environment, a nutritionally balanced diet, regular grooming, vaccinations and other veterinarian recommended treatments, providing appropriate exercise for the species, and general providing adequate attention to the Pets.
As pet owners know, having pets is a fulfilling and rewarding relationship. However, caring for pets is also time consuming and costly. Addressing these issues in your estate plan ensures that your pets will be cared for, and the cost of care will not become an economic burden on your friends and family.
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