Four-legged friends need planning, too. Don’t forget your pets when planning to give your assets to family, friends or charity. Unknown to many people, your Wisconsin estate plan can include instructions, and financial provisions, for caring for your furry, feathered or other animal companion. Failing to plan, however, may doom your pet to an undesirable fate if no one steps up to take the animal.
A lot of people assume that they’ll outlive their pets. Certainly though, if they do not survive their animals, these people likely desire that their beloved companions continue to enjoy the same standard of living they knew before. WKOW TV reported on Jerry and Judi Wilkerson, who were in this position and created a pet trust for their bulldog, Lulu Bell. The trust contained roughly $2,000 in assets to cover larger expenses such as vet bills, and named a cousin, with whom the dog was already acquainted and emotionally attached, to care for the dog. “[W]e wanted to make sure Lulu Bell was taken care of no matter what happened. It actually relieved a lot of stress. At least we know we have set aside a little bit of money, some instructions and there is a person willing to take care of her,” the husband explained.
Wisconsin law does not have a specifically dedicated pet trust statute. However, the Wisconsin Statutes do permit residents to create honorary trusts that for a non-charitable cause and have no human beneficiaries, as long as the trust’s purpose is not “capricious.” This statute forms the basis for a Wisconsin pet trust. A citizen may create an honorary trust, with the trust agreement’s instructions naming a provider for the animal and providing instructions regarding using the trust’s assets for the animal’s care.
A pet trust may offer certain advantages over using a will to provide for your pet. The pet trust would avoid the delays associated with the probate administration of a will. Because your pet will need the benefits of the funds you’ve left for him/her, and the love, affection and care of the provider you name immediately after you die, a trust may offer a more efficient way to minimize the disruption and trauma in your pet’s life. Engaging in such estate planning also gives you considerable peace of mind of knowing your pet is protected.
A truly complete estate plan addresses your desires regarding all your loved ones, both those with two legs and those with four. Madison trust attorney Daniel J. Krause of Krause Law Offices LLC has years of practice creating a wide spectrum of trusts, wills and estate planning documents to meet all kinds of needs. With our personalized attention to each client’s goals, we can help you get the customized solution you need. Consult Attorney Daniel J. Krause to find out more today.
Contact us through our website or call our office at (608) 268-5751 to schedule your confidential, no obligation initial consultation.
Using Trusts to Continue to Provide for Your Loved Ones, Even After You’re Gone, Wisconsin Probate & Estate Planning Blog, March 25, 2013
Personalization is Key to Ensuring Wisconsin Estate Plan Functions Properly, Wisconsin Probate & Estate Planning Blog, March 4, 2013
Your Wisconsin Estate Plan Should Include Much More Than a Will, Wisconsin Probate & Estate Planning Blog, Oct. 9, 2012