March 23, 2007
Pet trusts now more enforceable in Ohio
~ written by Julie Mills
Pet owners know how pets are considered a member of the family. Unfortunately, when pet owners die their pets are often surrendered and euthanized if there are no family members or friends willing to assume care of the pet or find an adoptive home. Preparing a “pet trust” that provides for the care of a pet in the event we die or become incapacitated is now codified in the Ohio. Although preparing a trust to care for a pet has been possible before the statute went into effect on January 1, the new statute is now part of the Ohio Revised Code and is more enforceable.
To create a trust under this new Ohio law, you need to find an attorney experienced in preparing trusts, preferably with experience preparing trusts for the care of an animal. As with any trust, you will need to select a trustee to manage the trust. The trustee can also be the pet’s caregiver, but it is recommended that they be separate people to provide additional oversight.
The next step will be to determine what amount you will fund the trust. This amount is determined by calculating the expenses your pet requires, an estimate of veterinary costs, its life expectancy and possibly a sum for burial or cremation expenses. Burying or cremating a cat or dog is one thing; doing so for a horse is an entirely different logistical and financial matter. Furthermore, calculating expenses for a dog or cat with life expectancies of about 10 to 18 years is far different than calculating expenses for a parrot that can often live to be 80 years old.
If there are no people that you trust to care for your pet if you are gone, there are several groups and humane societies that provide permanent lifelong care or temporary care until adoption.