Pet Trusts in Florida: What You Need to Know
Animals play an important role in many people’s lives. The Insurance Information Institute (III) reports that approximately 85 million American families own at least one pet. Whether it is a dog, cat, or more exotic animal, a pet can become a true member of the family. You may be wondering: Can my pet be part of my estate plan? The answer is ‘yes’—in fact, Florida allows people to create trusts for the care of animals. In this article, our Tampa estate planning lawyers discuss the key things you need to know about setting up a pet trust in Florida.
Florida Law: Trusts for the Care of an Animal
Under the old system, pet trusts were essentially unenforceable in Florida. Things have changed: The state legislature amended the law to allow people to leave trusts for animals. Under Florida Statutes § 736.0408, you have the right to create a trust for care of an animal. Through this type of trust, you can provide financial resources and instructions to be used for the care and comfort of a pet.
You should know the limitations. Florida only allows pet trusts to be created for animals that are alive during a settlor’s life. Further, the trust will terminate on the date of the passing of the last remaining pet covered by the trust. As such, a pet trust should also include instructions for what to do with resources that are left over after the pet trust expires. They can be transferred to an heir or given to a charity.
How Does a Pet Trust Work in Florida
In Florida, you can set up a pet trust for any type of animal—dog, cat, horse, etc. With a pet trust, financial resources will be left for the care, maintenance, and comfort of an animal. The benefits of a pet trust is that you can leave specific, legally enforceable directions for how money should be spent and how the animal will be cared for.
Pet trusts can be quite specific. As an example, you can use a trust to provide instructions (and financial resources) for a predetermined number of veterinarian visits each year. You could also include instructions for the pet’s funeral/burial upon passing. A pet trust can be customized to suit your individual needs.
To be clear, a pet trust is not the only estate planning tool that you can use to protect your pets. Indeed, a pet trust may not be required in your specific situation. As an example, if you have an adult child who you trust to care for your pet(s) should you pass away, you can include that in your will.
Contact Our Tampa, FL Trust Planning Attorneys for Help
At Bubley & Bubley, P.A., our Florida estate planning lawyers are experienced, diligent advocates for individuals and families. If you have questions about pet trusts, we are here to help. Contact us now for a completely confidential initial consultation. We represent clients in Tampa and throughout the wider region, including in Hillsborough County, Pinellas County, Pasco County, and Manatee County.