Most states, including New Jersey, recognize that pets are "living property" and they may be provided for in the event of the owner's incapacitation or death. As such, pet trusts are being used by many people to ensure that their pets are taken care of in the event they are no longer able to take care of them. As with any other kind of trust, there is more than one way to handle a pet trust.
A pet trust can be a living trust that can be used immediately upon the owner's incapacitation or death. In the alternative, owners can create a testamentary trust that will not be enacted until after death and the will has been put into probate. It is up to the pet owner which will work best in their situation.
Many of the same provisions that would be used in a trust for a minor child may be considered for a pet trust. Monies can be put into the trust for the care of the animal and how those monies are used can be as broad or as specific as the owner would like. The use of a certain veterinarian or even food can be put into the trust. As with any other trust, the pet owner may want to make sure that the trustee is willing to take in the animal before naming a trustee.
For many people in New Jersey, their pets are like family, yet many people have never even considered what will happen to those family members after the owner's death or incapacitation. Pet trusts can settle those issues well before the need for alternate care arises. It can also be worth the peace of mind to know that a beloved companion won't be tossed aside when the owner is gone.
Source: Huffington Post, "Consider Your Pets in Your Will," Sarah Hodgson, June 24, 2013