Setting up a pet trust is one important way to take care of your pet after your death or incapacity. Many South Carolina pet owners consider their pets to be part of their families. Those of us who deeply love our pets are rightly concerned about what will happen to our pets after we are no longer here.
Taking the time to engage in estate planning for your family cat, dog, bird, horse, or other pet will help you rest easy knowing your pet will be safe after you’re gone. South Carolina pet owners have the option to make legal arrangements for the care of their pets if the pet outlives them. If you’d like to create a pet trust, contact Willcox, Buyck & Williams, PA today to schedule your initial consultation with one of our experienced estate planning lawyers.
Laws Related to Pet Trusts in South Carolina
Under South Carolina law, pets are considered personal property. Unless you specifically address pets in your estate plan, pets will be lumped in with other personal property such as artwork, tools, jewelry, and household furnishings. However, unlike other personal property, your pet will need shelter, veterinary care, food, water, and attention to survive and thrive.
Pets need a caretaker during the probate process as well. Because pets are considered property under South Carolina law, they are part of your estate. When you die, nobody will be able to take ownership of your pet legally unless you’ve planned ahead.
What Happens to Your Pet If Something Happens to You?
A failure to plan ahead through estate planning could result in your pet ending up in a shelter. Every year, hundreds of thousands of cats and dogs end up in a shelter due to the incapacity or death of their owner. In many cases, your family members might not be able to care for your dog or cat. Even if your friends or family can care for your pet temporarily, they might not be able to care for your pet in the longer term.
Creating a Pet Trust in South Carolina
Many people assume that only wealthy individuals can create pet trusts. On the contrary, more people than ever of all walks of life are choosing to protect their pets through a pet trust. Creating pet trusts has become a popular practice for South Carolina pet owners. The South Carolina legislature has adopted laws that allow pet owners to create trusts that provide for the care of their animals. A trust is a legal entity that will provide for the care of your pet or pets after your incapacity or death.
You can choose to create your pet trust as a stand-alone legal document. Or, you can incorporate your pet trust into your overall estate plan. Many people include their pet trust as part of their revocable living trust or last will and testament. If you are a South Carolina pet owner, it is worthwhile to consider including this kind of trust as part of your comprehensive estate plan.
The Benefits of Creating a Pet Trust in South Carolina
Creating a pet trust is often the most beneficial solution for protecting your pet. Creating one will allow you to accomplish all of your pet planning goals, including designating a caregiver for your pet. You will be able to decide who will take care of your pet and your decision will become legally binding.
You will also be able to control the care of your pet through your pet trust. For example, you can designate a veterinarian that your pet’s caretaker needs to use. You can also state which types of food and treats the caretaker needs to offer your pet. Creating a pet trust will allow you to make sure that your pet receives the same amount of special care he or she did with you.
Funding Your Pet Trust
You will also be able to appoint a successor caregiver if your chosen caregiver passes away, becomes incapacitated, or gives up custody. As the settlor or creator of the trust, you will be able to decide how to fund the trust. The caretaker of your pet will have access to the funds you provide to care for your pet. You will be able to appoint a trustee who will manage the trust, including the assets owned by the trust. You’ll be able to make sure that your caretaker spends the money in the trust according to your wishes.
Avoid Probate By Establishing a Pet Trust
The assets you use to fund your pet trust will not be part of the probate process. Trusts are one of the best ways to avoid subjecting your family and pets to the hassles of the probate process. The probate process is often expensive and time-consuming. Going through the probate process can use up assets in the trust that would otherwise benefit your pet.
Instead of changing caretakers several times, your pet will be able to move to your chosen caretaker immediately. Your pet’s caretaker will also have immediate access to the assets in the trust to provide for your pet.
Contact Our South Carolina Pet Trust Lawyers Today
It is never too late to include your beloved pet in your estate plan. Doing so can be done relatively easily. If you are an animal lover who is concerned about what will happen to your pet after you’re gone, Willcox, Buyck & Williams, PA can help.
For over 125 years, South Carolina residents have trusted our law firm to help them engage in estate planning. We can evaluate your estate plan and create an effective pet trust that will ensure your pet is taken care of well after you’re gone. There is no time like the present to set up your pet trust. Contact our law firm today to schedule your free initial consultation.