Four-legged friends need planning, too. Don’t forget your pets when planning to give your assets to family, friends or charity. Unknown to many people, your Wisconsin estate plan can include instructions, and financial provisions, for caring for your furry, feathered or other animal companion. Failing to plan, however, may doom your pet to an undesirable fate if no one steps up to take the animal.
A lot of people assume that they’ll outlive their pets. Certainly though, if they do not survive their animals, these people likely desire that their beloved companions continue to enjoy the same standard of living they knew before. WKOW TV reported on Jerry and Judi Wilkerson, who were in this position and created a pet trust for their bulldog, Lulu Bell. The trust contained roughly $2,000 in assets to cover larger expenses such as vet bills, and named a cousin, with whom the dog was already acquainted and emotionally attached, to care for the dog. “[W]e wanted to make sure Lulu Bell was taken care of no matter what happened. It actually relieved a lot of stress. At least we know we have set aside a little bit of money, some instructions and there is a person willing to take care of her,” the husband explained.
Wisconsin law does not have a specifically dedicated pet trust statute. However, the Wisconsin Statutes do permit residents to create honorary trusts that for a non-charitable cause and have no human beneficiaries, as long as the trust’s purpose is not “capricious.” This statute forms the basis for a Wisconsin pet trust. A citizen may create an honorary trust, with the trust agreement’s instructions naming a provider for the animal and providing instructions regarding using the trust’s assets for the animal’s care.