December 2, 2016
When I did my Barrister Intermediary training with the Legal Services Guild we were looking at trusts and were presented with a number of different assets and asked which could go into a trust. One of these was a parrot. Now while you might think of property or assets of a high monetary value when you think of trusts there’s also ‘assets’ with a high emotional value such as pets.
To breakdown some of the myths surrounding trusts, essentially, they are a way of making sure your legacy is looked after exactly as you wish. They can last for 125 years which makes them a very flexible and effective way of managing a legacy going forward.
Where do parrots fit into this? Well it doesn’t have to just be parrots but they’re one of the longest living of our pets at an average of 50 years. The average lifespan of a horse is 30 years. So, while I wouldn’t suggest setting up a trust for the benefit of your hamster (though you are entitled to do so if you wish), if you want to make sure that your pet is cared for by someone you appoint then a trust is the perfect way to achieve that. If you have a pet with a long lifespan that is potentially expensive to look after you should consider who is willing to do that and what means they would have available to them to continue to care for your animals.
Unsurprisingly, ‘pet trusts’ are already popular in America and there are a number of firms that specialise in them. There are a number of pet charities that will offer to look after your dogs or cats etc. and make sure that they are not put down simply because they can’t be rehomed or are older. While this is a valid option it does take the pet away from its familiar surroundings, away from people it would have known and even simple things like its diet will change.
A pet trust would ensure that on your death, the funds within the trust could be used for the benefit of that pet in order to keep it well looked after. The funds inside, via the instructions issued in your trust deed, would state that they are only for the use of that pet and people often set up a life insurance policy to provide this money. If the pet were to pass away early then you could even request that the remaining funds are paid to charity so your legacy can continue to provide a benefit for animals.
It’s an important area to consider, especially when requests put within your will might fail or not prevent a new owner from rehoming a pet elsewhere. As always, we would recommend a review of your planning and if this is of interest to you it’s something we can accommodate. Please feel free to contact me on 01530 416555 or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or queries.