There is an anecdote about a millionaire lonely widow who disinherited her spoiled children in favor of leaving her fortune to her dog. Fortunately, for all of Florida’s bad sons and daughters who don’t visit as much as they should, Florida Law prohibits such a practice. As dear as our pets are to us, in the blind eyes of the law, pets are personal property and cannot inherit property themselves.
This, however, does not necessarily mean leaving your furry friend empty-pawed. The solution is found in Florida Statute 736.0408, “Trust for Care of an Animal.” Though probably more practical for ensuring your commercial racing horse spends his elder days out to stud, this provision can also protect the family pet.
The Animal Trust allows an owner (or the pet’s human, if you absolutely must describe it in such terms) to set aside reasonable financial resources for the animal’s lifetime care. The trust may also appoint a caretaker if the owner dies or becomes incapacitated, and a trustee that ensures the money is solely used for the benefit of the animal.
The trust will automatically dissolve upon the death of the animal, with the remaining funds returned to the owner if alive, or to other declared beneficiaries if the owner has also passed.
When creating the trust it is important not to get carried away, as a court will reduce the dedicated funds if they are deemed more than necessary for the care of the pet.
Now tell Fido to retrieve your slippers or else you’ll cut him out of your estate plan!