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Trust provides for more desirable "shelter" than fate

Anne-Marie Schiro, 76, has no desire to see her cats suffer the same fate as those of a friend who died after a long illness. Even though the friend had lined up caregivers for her two felines, when the time came for action, they backed out. One cat eventually got adopted. The other went to a shelter. Schiro's solution; a pet trust; is one estate planning attorneys in New Jersey and elsewhere are familiar with.

Schiro, her 104-year-old mother, and cats Lou Lou, Mimi and Johnny, live across the river in Manhattan. The terms of her pet trust are fairly straightforward. If the cats should outlive her and her mother, they will be taken to live at a North Shore Animal League retirement home. All their needs, until they die, will be paid for by the trust set aside for them.

Pet trusts may not be familiar to a lot of readers of this blog. Their purpose is to give elderly pet owners the wherewithal to lay out who will serve as guardian for their much-loved furry friends and provide instructions on how they want care to be delivered; right down to what they should eat and how they should live. Money, of course, is set aside to pay for that care.

It is possible that in some states pet trusts aren't recognized. Anyone considering creating such a trust should check with an attorney in their state to learn what options may exist. Simply including information in one's will might not be sufficient.

Wills deal with property disbursement after death and pets are often treated as property for those purposes. That means the state could decide a pet's fate. There are likely few pet lovers who would want to leave such decisions up to a court.

Source: The New York Times, "The Pet Problem," Alyson Martin, Nushin Rashidian, Feb. 3, 2012

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