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Trusts for pets growing in popularity

The trust is one of the most useful legal inventions to arrive on the scene in the past thousand years. Trusts essentially allow people to control their assets after they have died. This is done by giving property or money to trustees and then telling the trustees exactly what to do with these assets in written documents that can be enforced in court. Trusts in Texas serve a wide range of functions, but they are gaining popularity in the area of post-mortem care for pets.

Trusts designed for pets today are upheld by courts. However, it is wise to have an estate planning attorney involved in establishing such a trust. If legal documents governing trusts are not drafted carefully, litigation may result, with the intentions of those wishing to establish the trusts potentially not being honored.

The instrument that establishes a trust for one's pets must designate a trustee who will be responsible for handling the money. It should also name a caretaker for the pet. Furthermore, successors should be named in the event that one's first choice for a caretaker or trustee cannot or will not serve. Trusts should additionally provide clear instructions regarding one's pet's expected lifestyle.

Instruments establishing trusts for pets can also state how decisions involving euthanasia will be made and what will happen to the pets' bodies when the pets die. It is important to spell out how remaining funds in a trust will be distributed after a pet has died. Appropriate legal guidance in Texas may help people to confidently ensure that, even when they die, their wishes will be honored when it comes to their pets.

Source: gazette.com, "Trusts for pets demand close legal attention", Jim Flynn, March 12, 2016

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