While the main purpose of your estate plan is usually to provide for your family members, many people consider their companion animals to be part of their immediate family and also want to provide for their continued care. Missouri law allows you to provide for your pet in your estate plan by creating a Trust provision for their lifetime care. These provisions are usually a separate Article or paragraph contained within your Revocable Living Trust.
The only requirement is that the pet you’re providing for must be alive during your lifetime (e.g., you can’t provide for any animals that are born after your death). These Pet Trust provisions are usually triggered by your disability or death in order to ensure someone is immediately appointed to care for your pets and that the necessary funds are made available for that animal’s continued care. You can also leave detailed instructions on the day-to-day and medical care of your pet, and we encourage you to be as specific and detailed as possible. You will set aside a specific amount of money for your pet’s care and also designate a person of your choosing (can be someone different than the pet’s custodian) to “enforce” the Pet Trust and ensure that your wishes are being carried out. Any funds left over after your pet passes on, will ultimately be distributed to the beneficiaries you designate in your Trust. This is a provision of your estate plan that should not be neglected. If you already have a Trust, but it doesn’t provide for your pets, your Trust can usually be amended by an attorney to provide for your trusted companions. Our office deals with this issue on a regular basis and would be glad to assist you.