For those of us who consider our companion animals as family, there is a major concern as to what will happen to our furry family members after we can no longer care for them. The Greener Side Haven, Inc. is proud to offer two answers for this conundrum – Pet Trusts and Survivor Trusts. A trust set up with us as the caregiver and possible trustee takes away the burden of trying to leave your loved ones to family members or friends who really do not want that obligation. The Greener Side Haven will be happy to take care of all your furry and feathered babies in a home setting for the rest of their lives under a defined trust.
What are Pet Trusts and Survivor Trusts and what is the difference? Both are legally accepted arrangements that provide for the care and maintenance of one or more companion animals in the event of the grantor’s inability to care for the animals or upon the demise of the grantor. The “grantor” is the person that sets up the trust and the “trustee” is the person or entity that holds property (cash, or other items of value) “in trust” to be used for the care of the grantor’s companion animal(s). The Greener Side Haven can act as the caregiver alone or as both the caregiver and the trustee. In either case, the property set aside for the pets will be solely used for those pets, their daily care, medical expenses, grooming, etc. and finally the end care and disposal afterward of the grantor’s pets only. The trust may also specify that the property can be used to take care of other animals in the caregiver’s custody too. An attorney should be the one setting up the trust. If it is a Survivor Trust, the document should be part of the grantor’s will. A Survivor Trust goes into effect only after the grantor’s demise and a Pet Trust can go into effect at any point designated by the grantor; for example, if they go into a hospital or nursing facility, or if they just can’t care for their pets anymore.
In order to avoid unnecessary claims by heirs or other beneficiaries asserting the caregiver is spending an unreasonable amount on the pet, the attorney should include language to provide the pet caregiver with specific written directions regarding the care of the pets and the associated costs of care. These instructions are particularly valuable when planning for pets because it allows the pet owner to document the cost of the pet’s care, the type of care required, the medical history of the pet, and the current service providers, including veterinarians, farriers, groomers, pet sitters, or others who play an important role in the life of the pet. Special consideration should also be given to unexpected events, emergencies, and critical illnesses with instructions to guide the pet caregiver, trustee, or animal care panel. Equally important, the written instructions should also include instructions for euthanasia and the final disposition of the pet at the time of death, including cremation, burial, and the handling of the pets’ remains.*
Prior to seeking out legal counsel to set up your trust, it is advisable to sit down and be able to provide enough information regarding your pets:
- The identity of your pets – description, photos, microchips, DNA samples or other ways to verify that they are your pets. You can also describe your pets as a “class” – in other words, the pet(s) owned by you at the time of your demise.
- Describe the daily care of your pets. Is there anything special needed for their care?
- Determine the amount of funds that should be needed to properly take care of your pets and how the caregiver is to receive those funds. Will the caregiver be the trustee or will someone else be distributing those funds? If you do decide to have an additional trustee, determine the amount needed to cover the additional expenses of administering the Pet Trust.
- Provide instructions for the hospice care and final disposition of your pets. Do you wish them to be put down when certain events might happen (stroke, heart attack, cancer, etc.) or do you wish for them to be as comfortable as possible and leave the decision to the animal and the caregiver as to the appropriate time to be helped “Over the Rainbow Bridge”? What final disposition do you want for your pets – burial or cremation?
- What is to be done with any remainder in the event that the funds in the trust are not exhausted?
Pet Trusts and Survivor Trusts can offer pet owners peace of mind that their loved ones will be taken care of after they can no longer do so themselves. Once a trust is set up, it is imperative that a copy be given to the trustee as well as the designated caregiver (The Greener Side Haven, Inc.). It is also of the utmost importance to let multiple persons and or entities know to notify the designated trustee immediately upon your incapacity or demise so that the caregiver is able to go in and provide immediate care to your babies. It is imperative to let us know who is to be called for access to your premises to retrieve your pets. If you are able, please allow a representative of The Greener Side Haven to meet your pets in advance and to ask any unanswered questions we might have regarding the personality, preferences and care of your babies. It would also be beneficial to speak with those that will be notifying us as well as the trustee if it will not be The Greener Side Haven.
If you have any non-legal questions or would like additional information to set up a trust, please feel free to contact The Greener Side Haven, Inc. at (352) 513-2063 or Julianne Jackson, President at 352-746-3545.
* Margaret R. Hoyt and Sarah S. AuMiller, Can You Trust Your Pet? A Primer on Florida Pet Trusts,
The Florida Bar Journal, (November, 2014 Volume 88, No. 9), available at https://www.floridabar.org/DIVCOM/JN/JNJournal01.nsf/e4af811e3d563fa885256adb00471d5b/333e2f57acfea21b85257d7e00486720!OpenDocument
Dog of the Month: Summerie
This month we bring you Summerie. Summerie is a 12-year-old yellow Labrador retriever who has been at the Greener Side Haven, Inc. for 1 year on December 22nd. Summerie came to us as an owner surrender who could no longer afford her ongoing costly medical needs. Although she came from a loving home, her struggles with medical conditions started all too early in life. Just before her 2nd birthday she was diagnosed with Lyme disease and to make matters worse she had her first mass appear. When Summerie arrived to us she had double ear infections and several masses on her body, which we later had removed not to mention a broken heart from losing her family. Currently she suffers from ongoing relapses of the Lyme disease and is showing first stages of kidney failure. With all the bad there is still plenty to be positive of. With all the right medications, diet and veterinary care, Summerie remains a very happy girl who wants nothing more than our love. While she is one of our more financially needy kids, one look into her big brown soulful eyes and there’s nothing we wouldn’t do for her. If you would like to learn more about Summerie or how you can sponsor her or one of our other furry kids, please call us at (352)513-2063 or Julianne Jackson, President at (352) 746-3545.