Florida is one of a few states that have adopted a "Pet Trust Statue." It allows a loving pet owner to include their pet(s) as a beneficiary of their estate plan. These laws allow the creation of a trust specifically to benefit a pet so that your pets can be protected in the event you die or become disabled. Planning for your pets is critically important because your pet(s) will never be able to care for themself. Often we assume that family or friends will be responsible for our pet(s) if something happens to us, but the reality is that many of these loved pets end up in shelters across the country.
Florida's Pet Trust statute (F.S. 737.116) gives pet owners the ability to name their pet as the beneficiary of a trust created for the pet’s lifetime benefit. A trustee should be appointed to administer the trust assets and oversee the activities of the pet caregiver. An Animal Care Panel can also be appointed for additional protection of the pets.
Florida Pet Trust Statute 737.116 - Trust for care of animal:
(1) A trust may be created to provide for the care of an animal alive during the settlor's lifetime. The trust terminates upon the death of the animal or, if the trust was created to provide for the care of more than one animal alive during the settlor's lifetime, upon the death of the last surviving animal.
(2) Except as provided in this section, the law of this state regarding the creation and administration of express trusts applies to a trust for the care of an animal.
(3) A trust authorized by this section may be enforced by a person appointed in the terms of the trust or, if no person is so appointed, by a person appointed by the court. A person having an interest in the welfare of the animal may request the court to appoint a person to enforce the trust or to remove a person appointed. The appointed person shall have the rights of a trust beneficiary for the purpose of enforcing the trust, including receiving accountings, notices, and other information from the trustee and providing consents.
(4) Property of a trust authorized by this section may be applied only to its intended use, except to the extent the court determines that the value of the trust property exceeds the amount required for the intended use. Property not required for the intended use, including the trust property remaining upon its termination, shall be distributed in the following order of priority:
(a) As directed by the terms of the trust;
(b) To the settlor, if then living;
(c) Pursuant to the residuary clause of the settlor's will if the trust for the animal was created in a preresiduary clause in the settlor's will;
(d) If the settlor is deceased, pursuant to the residuary provisions of the inter vivos trust if the trust for the animal was created in a preresiduary clause in the trust instrument; or
(e) To the settlor's heirs.
(5) This section applies to trusts created on or after January 1, 2003.
Your pet is a part of your family and needs to be cared for when you are disabled or deceased!
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Marc J. Soss, Esquire
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