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Using trusts to protect estate -- and the pet?

There are many reasons for Michigan residents to put together an estate plan. And, for as many different reasons that there are to get started, there are just as many different options to consider. For instance, for some people, protecting inheritance and making sure that assets get passed to the right person is the main goal. Others will want to make sure that they are taking advantage of every tax planning tactic available to ensure that the most amount of assets possible will be passed on. For each different goal different options will be relevant. However, for a growing segment of the population, making plans to make sure a beloved pet is cared for is a top priority.

According to a recent article, just about the only way to make sure that funds are properly allocated to care for a pet is to have a pet trust drafted. As the article notes, 46 of the 50 states allow a person who is crafting an estate plan to establish a pet trust, and Michigan is one of those states. And, with pet ownership in America at an all-time high, Michigan residents are likely to hear more about pet trusts as they become more prevalent.

The article explains that a pet trust operates much the same way that our readers would expect other types of trusts to work. Funds are transferred into the care of a trustee, who then has a fiduciary responsibility to use those funds in the pet's interest. So, in the event that the trustee isn't the one who is going to take over as the pet's caretaker, the trustee is responsible for paying the pet's costs and making sure that the actual caretaker is seeing to the pet's needs.

Anyone familiar with previous posts here knows that there are many different reasons for a Michigan resident to consider using trusts as part of an estate plan. Now, it seems that pet trusts may be just one more option for people interested in crafting an estate plan to consider.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, "More Americans Are Writing Their Pets Into Their Wills," Anne Tergesen, Jan. 12, 2014

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