When You’re Worried about What Happens to Your Pet after You Die

Posted by Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard, PLLC on October 12, 2018

Just everybody recognizes the identity of man’s (and a woman’s) best friend. While dogs are treasured companions, other types of pets hold equal importance. If you’re the owner of a furry friend, there’s a huge chance you are worried. What will happen to your pet after you die?

Meanwhile, dogs and cats aren’t the only animals that make it into the hearts of human beings. If you’ve raised a parrot from the early stages, you surely know there’s a chance you’ll be outlived. After all, a few years ago, Winston Churchill’s favored bird was still alive and talking at age 114.

The idea of explicitly planning for your pet after you’re gone might seem strange to some. However, if you’re a pet owner, you may have experienced more of a relationship with your fur baby than your human family. In fact, it is most likely the reason you were drawn to this article.

So, what can you do? It might come as a surprise, but Tennessee law actually allows pet owners to leave instructions regarding the care of their beloved animals as part of an estate plan.

Tennessee Law and Pet Trusts

Tennessee is actually one of 46 states that have laws in place that are designed to give pet owners some assurances that their animals will be cared for after they’re gone. Tennessee’s statute on pet trusts became law in 2004 and is found at Tenn. Code Ann. §35-15-408. This portion of the code was most recently updated in 2007.

There are some critical things to understand concerning the creation of a pet trust. For one, it is only valid for ninety years. In most cases, that certainly sounds like more than enough time. One would imagine that it’s a rare instance where are more extended time period is necessary.

What if you are concerned about the wellbeing of more than one fur baby? No worries. You are still entitled to set up the pet trust to care for all of your beloved animals. When there is only one pet, the trust terminates when that furry friend dies. With multiple pets, it ends when the last animal passes away.

Keep in mind that a pet trust doesn’t necessarily just come into effect when you die. It is also a useful tool in the event that you become incapacitated and are unable to take care of your dear furry companion.

Setting Up the Pet Trust

An experienced estate planning attorney can assist you in setting up the pet trust. Meanwhile, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

First and foremost, who do you want to take care of your pets if you become ill or pass away?  As much as you might consider one of your friends or relatives reliable, you should think twice about making a request that they assume care of your purring feline. It could be that allergies will prevent them from taking on this vital task.

Frankly asking someone to take over pet care should be viewed with the same standards as appointing a guardian for your minor children. Obviously, your relationship with your animals may strongly parallel.

Next, there’s the issue of money. You will want to ensure you are not creating an undue financial burden. Think about allocating funds for vet bills and food expenses.

In the end, setting up a pet trust can truly benefit you and your animals. Put your mind at ease with this very critical part of your estate plan.

Contact Us

Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard, PLLC has extensive experience in handling estate planning. Have questions? Give us a call to schedule an appointment. We are happy to help you during this very important process.

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