While people in Florida cannot leave property to a pet, they can make provisions to ensure their animal is properly cared for in the event they become incapacitated or pass away. Under the state’s law, a pet trust can be created to outline what should be done with an animal in those circumstances.

These trusts are advantageous over a will, because a will’s instructions for pet care are not legally enforceable, and a will does not take effect immediately. Further, a will cannot make provisions for what to do if someone becomes incapacitated.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals points out that those creating a trust for pets will be able to do the following:

  • Provide details as to how the pet should be cared for
  • Name a caretaker and designate funds to be used solely for the animal
  • Give instructions for the pet’s cremation or burial
  • Choose someone who will receive any funds left in the trust after the animal’s death

Further, a trust is legally enforceable. In the trust, the pet owner will be able to require that the caregiver is providing the proper attention to the animal, including trips to the veterinarian. A designated trustee is able to hold the caregiver accountable, even taking legal action if it is believed that the pet is not receiving the necessary care.

The ASPCA recommends that anyone looking to incorporate an animal into an estate plan should work with an attorney to ensure that all the bases have been covered.

Luis E. Barreto