Florida Will for Pets

Pets are like children, except they will never grow up to be able to look after themselves. If you have a pet, don’t just assume your family or friends will take care of it once you’re not here. You need to make provision for your animal in your Last Will and Testament.

Firstly, a Florida Will for Pets should appoint a beneficiary to inherit your pet (similar to designating a guardian for minors). The beneficiary is not required to adopt your pet. So you need to ensure you appoint someone who is willing look after your pet for the rest of its life. You should also appoint a backup (successor) beneficiary just in case your first choice ends up being unavailable or unable to carry out the role.

In addition to appointing a beneficiary, section 736.0408 of the Florida Trust Code allows you to create a trust in your Florida Will for Pets. This means you can leave a certain amount of money and/or property to your pet as beneficiary of that trust.

You can designate a trustee to control the funds and property on behalf of your pet. The person you name to inherit your pet doesn’t have to be the same person you designate as trustee to manage the trust moneys. Sometimes, it’s better to keep these appointments separate. If one has control over both your pet and the money, there’s more incentive to use the property for their own benefit, rather than the benefit of your pet. To avoid this happening, you may also name a person who is entitled to enforce the trust terms on behalf of your beloved animal.

The trust is not limited to just one companion. You can name any number of pets including dogs, horses, cats or even a guinea pig to be covered by the Florida Will For pets trust. Alternatively, you can create a separate pet trust for each individual animal.

The trust ends once the covered beneficiary dies. If you created one trust for all your animals, the trust terminates on the death of the last surviving animal. You should stipulate who is to receive any unused funds or property on termination.

Note that you can only leave amounts which are reasonable for the intended use. If a court believes the amount is excessive, it may distribute the balance to the same persons who are specified in your Florida Will for Pets to receive the remains once the trust terminates.

For further reading, here is the relevant section of the Florida trust code:

“736.0408 Trust for care of an animal.
(1) A trust may be created to provide for the care of an animal alive during the settlor’s lifetime. The trust terminates on 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, on the death of the last surviving animal.
(2) A trust authorized by this section may be enforced by a person appointed in the terms of the trust or, if no person is 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.
(3) Property of a trust authorized by this section may be applied only to the intended use of the property, except to the extent the court determines that the value of the trust property exceeds the amount required for the intended use. Except as otherwise provided in the terms of the trust, property not required for the intended use must be distributed to the settlor, if then living, otherwise as part of the settlor’s estate.”

The appropriate clause or wording to create a trust for your pet can be obtained from a qualified Wills attorney.

About | Privacy | Terms