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Pet trusts: Caring for your fur babies.

Honorary Trusts for Pets is addressed in EPTL Article 7-8.1, which allows for New York pet owners to create a trust fund for their furry and scaly friends and to have one, or more than one, trustees to manage those funds. A pet trust can be created and funded during the life of the grantor as an inter vivos trust or it can also be included in a Will as a testamentary trust. The purpose of the pet trust is to ensure that your beloved pet continues to receive adequate care upon your death. You may include information about your pet’s healthcare, preferred veterinarian, plans for their burial, and other specifications in the pet trust which must terminate at the time of passing of your pet. 

No portion of the trust can be redirected for any use other than for the pet’s benefit, and upon termination, the remaining pet trust funds may either be returned to the estate of the grantor or transferred to other beneficiaries per the instructions on the trust instrument. Further, a court may reduce the amount of the pet trust if it determines that funds placed therein substantially exceed the reasonable costs required to care for the pet. If no trustee is appointed or willing to serve, then the court shall appoint a trustee and make whatever decisions are necessary to uphold the intent of the Grantor. 

In the past, pet owners have incorporated their animals into their Last Will and Testament either by allocating a portion of their estate for the maintenance of their pet or leaving their pet as a bequest to another. However, issues with probate or administration of the Will may still leave pets susceptible to neglect for unspecified periods of time.

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