Many people in Florida and elsewhere consider their pets to be members of the family. Pet owners often want to know that their furry, loved ones will be taken care of after they are gone. Commonly, pet owners ask a trusted person to care of their pet, but sometimes the caretaker changes his or her mind when it comes to taking in the pet. Pet trusts can help prevent such a situation.

A pet trust is a legal document that names a guardian for a pet that outlives its owner. The guardian of the pet trust carries out the owner’s instructions for the pet’s care which can include directions on food and how the animal should live. Like other trusts, a pet trust must be funded with money or property or both so the care of the animal can be paid.

In comparison to wills, pet trusts are a more robust legal option when it comes to the care of a pet. While a will can assign who will receive a pet upon the death of an owner because a pet is considered property, instructions for the care of a pet are generally not enforceable if contained in a will. If the new ownership of a pet is only established in a will without other legal documents, the state may ultimately decide the fate of the pet because judges have the power to adjust wills.

If an individual person cannot be named as guardian for a pet trust, think about naming an entity like a retirement community as the trusted guardian. With money set aside for the pet’s care, a retirement home may welcome the addition of a pet to entertain residents.

Finally, the establishment of a pet care plan is also beneficial at time when family members are likely to be grieving.