By Shawn Rader
In a recent article, the New York Post interviewed a woman who has set up an inheritance for her dog, Bella Mia, with an inheritance of jewelry, a six figure trust fund and a million dollar house in Port St. Lucie. (Shades of Leona Helmsley!)
While some might consider this a bit extravagant, most people today consider pets a member of the family. Florida was one of the first states to pass a law allowing for the establishment of a trust fund to care for any pets or animals after their owner’s death. (The person setting up the trust is called a “settlor.” The animals to be benefited by the trust must be alive during the settlor’s life.)
With Americans today owning 72 million dogs and 82 million cats, the establishment of a pet trust should be considered as part of any estate planning, especially with 32 million Americans living alone. The trust should spell out the purposes for which the funds can be disbursed on the pet’s behalf, and the settlor should have one or two people in mind to administer the trust in accordance with the settlor’s wishes. Having done so, the owner can rest easy that he or she has done the best to assure that upon the owner’s death, Fido and Fluffy will be able to live comfortably thereafter.