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What is A Pet Trust? And Why You Need One.

(Rough) Transcript of Video:

Hey everyone, this is Brian Russ from Brian Russ Law, Inc. I’m an attorney, out in California serving California people so, most times, I referred to myself as an estate planning lawyer, estate planning law generally covers creation of wills and trusts, and you know litigating disputes that have to do with them, you know, I want to say that most of the time it has to do with the administration of estates and trusts. Once we confirm you know somebody passed away, and their assets need to be distributed according to those wills and trusts. So, as an estate planning lawyer, one of the things I come across very often is what to do if somebody has a pet, and they want to know, you know, what should I do with my companion, my pet companion, my animal companion? When I pass away, how do I plan for their care, how do I plan for that pets, you know continued care and so on. So that’s kind of the topic of this video is today’s what is a pet trust, and you know the follow up is how pet trust can help in that situation.

So, before we go further, I have a few disclaimers I have to give you. The first disclaimer is that this video does not constitute legal advice. This video is for general informational purposes only and is not legal advice. I recommend that you retain an attorney to help with your particular situation. Again this video is for informational purposes. It’s not created for any particular set of facts or circumstances and is for general information about pet trusts only. The next disclaimer I have to give you is that no attorney client relationship forms by your viewing of this video. Again no attorney client relationship forms by your viewing of this video. I am not your attorney. You are not my client. Final disclaimer is that this video is an advertisement to the extent it can be considered an advertisement, it should be considered an advertisement. I’m an attorney and I sell my services and part of the reason I do these videos is to show you that I know what I’m talking about, and hopefully, you know, get you to contact my office, so this video is an advertisement.

Now on the topic of the video. Pet trust key points right so that is again what we’re talking about pet trusts, you know, this is all about different types of pet trusts and how you deal with types of pets. What kind of considerations you need to make for helping your pets, whether it’s a canine feline your equine bovine, whatever.

So the first thing I always recommend when people are setting up pet trusts, you know, is to make sure that your pets are named, so people know which pets you’re referring to, and keep it updated. Now, you know, of course you don’t want to just name it and say you know this pet trust is just for my one dog, you know, Fido. And, you know, forget to include Bingo, and Rover, you know you want to make sure that there’s language in there that lets people know, in any event you get additional pets you want them cared for, or if there are pets with different levels of needs, you know you have that clarified as well.

And this really goes in on the second thing is that you need to keep it updated. Right, so I mean I always recommend to people that they update their trust or at least read the trust, to see if it needs to be updated, I say do it once a year. And, you know, that’s a great day to do it on, you know, make sure your pets are named correctly updated as needed. The second thing that generally people see in pet trusts, you know, let me back up for a second.

But you’re watching this, and you’re thinking, what the heck is a pet trust when we haven’t explained what a petrest is yet. A pet trust is, is a way that you can set aside assets or cash (cash is assets) but you can say, set aside assets for the benefit of your pets to ensure that they’re cared for after your passing. And so it’s a way that you can set up a trust for that, you know, the, the pet your companion is the beneficiary of the trust, and so it gives somebody, some guidance, so instead of saying, you know, you know, when I pass away my dogs go to my sister and I hope my sister cares for them, you say, “Okay, sister. You’re getting the dogs. I’m giving you $40,000. I’m giving you $40,000 In addition to dogs. And this is how you’re supposed to use that money.” And it allows you to give very specific prescriptions on how that money is to be used, how associated with care of the animals house was used for the disposition of the animals after they passed away, and so on.

What it also provides is it provides is it gives a little bit of, you know cover essentially to the trustee the person who’s responsible for the pet trustee, you know, in general the person who’s the trustee of the pet trust is also the person who’s caring for the animals, but it gives them some, some guidance, you know from you saying this is how I want them cared for and it also gives them some coverage so if somebody, you know, comes around and says hey you got $40,000 or whatever, you know, you owe a debt that person can say “No, that money is not for me, that money is for the pets, you know that money cannot be claimed.” You know in a bankruptcy or so on because it’s a completely, it’s held for a completely separate interest. So again a pet trust is a way that we can set aside assets for the care of our pets, after we pass away, that also, you can provide guidance to the trustees of the pets to show that they are cared for in the way that the pet owner would have wanted him to be cared for.

 Now, going back to topic so you know I recommend that you describe the standard of care, as to what how you want the pets to be cared for. So you know that is saying, essentially, hey, you know, I want my pets to receive this, You know, X Brand of dog food or Y Brand of cat food. It allows you to really describe, you know, they need to be going to the vet once a month, you know they need to be on dialysis, they need to be given their CBD gummies, you know, whatever it is you can describe the standard of care that you want your pets to have. It’s generally the standard care that you provided them you want them to be cared for.

The next thing is I always recommend that you include alternative care providers. So again, say you’re giving your dog to your sister. You know it’s inclusive language and that says you know sisters are unable to take the dog, or whatever your, your second and third in line, I always say you give up to three people, so that way there’s always plenty of cover there so you don’t have to get the quarter mile to say okay well who’s going to get the pets and who gets the money and so on like that. So, always give alternative care providers.

The next key point is I always recommend that you, you, be very clear about what you want for the disposition of the remains of your pet. So whether it is cremation or burial or whatever it is, be very clear, make sure the money you have in the trust should cover that. Right, so it just ends up being a math problem where you say okay like I know my dog probably or my cats have four or five years left you know 5000 bucks a year for food, medical expenses stuff, you know, two or three grand for, you know, disposition remains you know you can call around and get quotes on this, so that what you say, you know at the end of the day you say okay there’s you know, 40,000, or so, you know 10,000 Whatever the number is. Now, don’t quote me on this, I believe California law says that if there’s more than $40,000 in assets in the pet trust, then there is a requirement for an annual accounting by the trustee so if you keep it below that number administratively I think it’s a little bit easier record keeping. Don’t quote me on that. Again it just popped into my head, but I believe there is a threshold, I think it is $40,000 where accounting is required for the pet trust

And final point I have is to make sure there’s some language in there that describes what you wanted to residue of the trust, that means the residue of the pet trust means whatever’s leftover so after the pets been cared for after the pet is, you know, passed away, and everything if there’s remain some money in the account. make sure you clarify who’s going to get that residue the trust, I see a lot of times people just say no if there’s residue the trust to give it to the ASPCA give it to your local animal shelter or something like that, because it’s easier sometimes, you know, you don’t want to commingle it with the rest of the trust, because you know maybe seven or eight beneficiaries on there ends up being an accounting nightmare to say you know everybody gets $12.43 Because you get attorney involved that it costs more to distribute it.

So that’s it for the video today, again I think pet trusts are honestly one of the most common issues that I see with pet owners. It’s always a heavy topic of conversation because they want to make sure their companions are cared for. And I think, you know, the pet trust is generally the way to do it. If you want to reach out, talk to me about this, this is great. Again my name is Brian Russ I’m an estate planning lawyer, my home base is in Sacramento, California but I serve people all throughout California so if you’re looking for an estate planning lawyer in Los Angeles. If you’re looking for an estate planning lawyer, you know, in San Francisco, reach out to me, I’m happy to talk to you about all this, And that’s it. Have a great day everyone.

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