Wills and Estates

wills imageWills and Estates

Everyone knows they should have a will in place to provide for their family and loved ones in the event of death or mental/physical incapacitation. Your will is quite possibly the most important legal document you will ever create, but it is often overlooked or in the form of an incomplete draft. Planning for the tax efficient transfer of assets to your family members, while meeting personal and financial goals, can be complicated. Schulman & Kissel can help you or your family member navigate through the complexities of your estate planning needs and options.





pets imagePet Trusts

Have you ever considered what you can do to provide for your pet(s) if they outlive you or your ability to care for them?

Who, or what institution, is equipped and trusted to care for your pet? Where will the money come from to pay for things like food, shelter, and veterinary care? Who will manage the money? How can you ensure your pets the quality of life they deserve?

A pet trust is a vehicle for holding money to be used for the benefit of one or more of your pets. A law passed in 1996 made pet trusts legal in New York. Before that, the main options were to give money to a person or entity with a request that he or she care for the pets, or make a gift to a person contingent on the care of the pets. These options usually worked, but lacked an enforcement mechanism. What if the trusted family member or friend does not have the time, lifestyle, resources or desire necessary to properly care for your pet?  Establishing a pet trust alleviates many of these troubling concerns for pet owners.


How Does a Pet Trust Work?

A trusted individual or institution, such as the Hudson Valley Humane Society, is appointed trustee to hold and manage the property given to the trust, which is typically a liquid asset (like a bank account). The trustee may only use the trust property for the benefit of the beneficiary animals. The court may appoint a trustee if none is designated or none is surviving.

The creator of a pet trust may designate a person or organization to enforce the trust. In the absence of a designated enforcer, a judge may do so on anyone’s request. A judge may also make other orders and determinations necessary to carry out the pet owner’s intent.

A pet trust will terminate when the last of the animals covered by the trust dies. The trust may provide for what happens to the money remaining in the trust. If the trust does not specify what happens after the last pet dies, the remaining money will pass to your estate. If the fund is clearly too large for the care of the pet(s), a judge may reduce it, with the overage passing as if all of the animals had died.

A responsible pet owner makes plans to care for their pets if those pets outlive them or their ability to care for them.  An attorney knowledgeable in this area can help you select a custodian for your pets and guide you on how to use pet trust to establish a fund for your pets.