July 21, 2009
Utilizing a Michigan Pet Trust or Animal Care Trust is a great planning tool to use when you have pets (cats, dogs, horses, etc) that you want to ensure are taken care of after you pass or become incapacitated.
Planning for your pet is very important because without proper planning your beloved pet there could be no one to care for him or her and no funds to provide for care for your pet. Worse yet, your pet could be euthanized if no home can be found.
With proper planning and using an Animal Care Trust or Pet Trust, your beloved pet can be cared for how you would want him or her to be cared for in the environment of your choosing.
Basically, a Michigan Pet Trust is similar in design to how you would select trustees and guardians for your children. However, instead of a a guardian for your children, we select a Caretaker to take care of your beloved animals. The Trustee handles the funds, while the Caretaker provides the day to day care taking of the pet ensuring a loving safe environment.
Sometimes people think a good option for setting up someone to care for their pet is to provide a monetary gift in their estate plan to an individual and then tell them to take care of the pet. This can be dangerous, because that monetary gift does not need to be used for the benefit of the pet. After you pass, they could spend that gift on anything they want and then take your pet and drop him or her off at the Humane Society.
The better alternative for your pet and your peace of mind is the Michigan Animal Care Trust. With these trusts, your Trustee keeps the funds separate from the Caretaker’s assets. This means the assets must be used for the benefit of your pet and if the Caretaker were to get divorced, sued, go bankrupt, the assets would be protected.
It is important to work with a Michigan estate planning lawyer who is familiar with pet planning and Animal Care Trusts or Pet Trusts, because they are relatively complicated documents.
Christopher J. Berry, Esq., A Michigan Pet Trust Lawyer, is a Partner with The Law Office of Witzke Berry PLLC, which practices in the areas of Estate Planning, Trusts and Estates, and Animal Care Trusts.
June 16, 2009
Filed under: Planning for Pets with Pet Trusts — Christopher J. Berry @ 8:31 pm
People love their pets. According to a bankrate.com article, Americans spent more than $43.2 billion on their pets in 2008. With all that spending their are two areas that are often overlooked. Both, according to the article, are affordable for most families and can even save your pet’s life.
The two key planning tools are pet insurance and pet trusts. Both can save your precious pet’s life. Pet insurance helps pay for the health care costs that can arise if your pet is injured or has health issues. This prevents the all to common occurrence of pets being euthanized due to a lack of money.
The other main planning tool, and the one our pet planning law firm can assist with, is including your pet in your estate plan with a pet trust. A Michigan pet trust can set aside money that is protected for the use taking care of your pet after you pass with a caretaker or multiple care takers. Michigan is one of the many states that allow for pet trusts.
One of the major benefits of a Michigan pet trust, is that a trustee can go to court to ask for a successor care taker if the pet is not being taken care of the way the trust outlines.
You can read the rest of the bankrate.com article here. Also mentioned is a Pet Trust planning colleague, Danny Meek of Indiana. Read Danny Meek’s pet trust law blog.
You can download our Michigan pet trust brochure.
Christopher J. Berry, Esq. is a Partner with Witzke Berry PLLC, which practices in the areas of Estate Planning, Elder Law, Probate, and Michigan Pet Trusts.
photo courtesy of Alan Bruce
If have you ever dealt with a parent’s or loved one’s estate, financial affairs or Michigan probate, you most likely know what a pain it is to administer their estate, clean up their affairs, and locate important documents and records. I wanted to provide you some straightforward easily digestible advice on how make sure you don’t leave your loved ones in a lurch.
First and foremost, you must get organized. You should begin creating a list of all your assets, liabilities, accounts, passwords. Compile all of your records in one place and make sure they are safe and that your proposed personal representative, trustee, or whoever will handle you affairs when you pass, knows where to locate your documents.
The next step is to identify what your goals are with regard to when you become incapacitated or pass away. Do you want to protect your assets in case you go into a Michigan nursing home? Do you want to protect your children from poor financial choices with your inheritance? Do you want to avoid the hassle, stress, cost of Michigan probate? Do you want to provide for your pets to be taken care of and not euthanized? There are many difficult decisions to take into account. We can provide you a list of some of the items to think about with regard to Michigan estate planning. Just contact us using the contact form on this page.
Third, you need to select your team of advisors including your Michigan estate planning lawyer or Michigan elder law attorney. Your attorney will assist you, along with your accountant and financial professional in matching the legal environment to your goals to create an individualized Michigan estate plan to meet your goals. Through meeting with your Michigan estate planning professionals, you will have a Michigan estate plan that may include living trusts, wills, general durable powers of attorney, health care powers of attorney, HIPAA authorizations and living wills. Though Michigan statute does not recognize a living will.
Next, there should be a review of how your assets are titled. For example, who is the beneficiary of your life insurance? Should it be titled into the trusts or should the life insurance go outright to beneficiaries? What about the IRA’s and 401k’s? These are all questions and items that will be reviewed with your Michigan estate planning attorney and the rest of your estate planning team.
Next, it is important to speak with all of your family members about what decisions you made and how your Michigan estate plan will be implemented and how it will take effect. If our clients are interested, we have a “family meeting” where we have our clients bring in any family members or children to answer any questions in a round table format so that all of the loved ones and beneficiaries are on the same page.
Last, you need to review your estate plan annually once completed. There can be changes in your family situation, changes in Michigan or Federal law, or changes in the tax laws. Any changes could have drastic effects on your estate plan. We bring our clients in every year as a part of our Foundations program to ensure that their estate plan is just effective the day they signed there documents as it is the day the the documents take effect.
The key to Michigan estate planning is taking action. You can’t wait until the day you need an estate plan to start thinking about estate planning.
-Christopher J. Berry, Esq.
Michigan Estate Planning Attorney