Post about "Pets"

Pet Trusts – Why a Will is Not Enough

The well-documented case of Leona Helmsley, billionaire hotel mogul and real estate investor, has continued to be a story of interest for pet owners and estate planning attorneys alike. In addition to painting the headlines with stories of tax evasion scandals, her name has now become synonymous with the extent in which some pet owners love their pets. In Leona Helmsley’s case, that love was to the tune of $12 million dollars, the money she left for her Maltese named Trouble.However, due to some inadequate legal advice, Helmsley stated her preferences in a will, rather than securing a pet trust for her dog. The result has been a circus of legal battles and re-negotiations of Helmsley’s will after her death, with a Manhattan court mandating a $10 million dollar reduction in Trouble’s bequeathed funds. Meanwhile, Helmsley’s dying wishes for her brother to be the caretaker of her beloved pet have gone largely ignored, and Trouble now lives in Florida with Carlekic, manager of the Helmsley Sandcastle Hotel.These problems would have been nonexistent had Helmsley secured a pet trust. There are two different types of pet trusts;traditional and statutory,and both are a more secure way to assure that your wishes for your pet are carried out when you die. A traditional pet trust is effective in all states, and is a legally enforceable agreement. Pet trusts ensure that pet owners can leave specific instructions via a pet trust attorney concerning the care of their pet including the pet’s caregiver (beneficiary), the type of care the pet should receive, and details regarding the standard of living for the pet. If the caregiver (beneficiary) does not follow the instructions, the pet owner can use a pet trust to appoint an alternate beneficiary to carry out the trust as instructed.Another alternative, a statutory pet trust, allows the owner to leave fewer instructions, but is still more effective than a will in assuring the pet’s care and well-being after the owner is no longer able to care for the pet. In California, both traditional and statutory pet trusts are legally enforceable according to the pet owner’s exact instructions.If you live in California and would like to secure the future of your pet in your estate planning, a qualified pet trust attorney will be able to guide you through the process. As in Helmsley’s case, lawyers without experience in pet trust statutes for California might not be the best resource in answering the specific questions you might have about the laws in California relating to both traditional and statutory pet trusts. However, a lawyer with experience in California pet trusts will help you find the peace of mind you need in knowing that your pet will be well cared for when you can no longer take care of him or her.