The importance of having a proper Last Will and Testament in place cannot be overstated. Aside from directing the distribution of your assets upon your death, among other items, a Will may also designate guardians for your minor children, provide tax planning and state your funeral preferences. To many of us, an issue equally important to those stated above is the care of our pets after our deaths.
Fortunately, New Jersey law (N.J.S.A. 3B:11-38) permits an individual, through his or her Will, to establish a Trust for the benefit of a pet. The Testator (maker of the Will) may designate as Trustee of the Trust whomever the Testator desires. The Trustee is charged with managing the Trust’s assets in a prudent fashion in providing for the care and maintenance of the pet. Thus, the importance of selection of the Trustee should not be understated.
The Pet Trust may be established with any amount of estate assets that the Testator desires; however, the statute also provides that the court may reduce the principal of the trust if it finds the amount to substantially exceed that which is required for the intended use.
The statute directs that a pet trust shall terminate when there is no longer a living animal covered by the trust, or after 21 years, whichever occurs earlier.
To many of us our pets are a part of our immediate family. Thus, it is our duty as pet owners to ensure their care and safety in the event we are no longer available to do so. Establishing a Pet Trust accomplishes this task.
Should you wish to obtain more information on this subject or schedule a consultation regarding estate planning, please do not hesitate to contact us.
*The above is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice, legal counsel nor legal representation.