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Discover the latest news, cases, and estate planning insights in Florida at Knudsen Law Blogs. Our dedicated Tampa estate planning attorneys delve into crucial legal topics to keep you well-informed and equipped to protect your assets and loved ones. Stay up-to-date with relevant information and make well-informed decisions for your future with our expert guidance.

Tampa Estate Planning & Probate Attorney / Blog / Trusts / Are Pet Trusts Legal in Florida?

Are Pet Trusts Legal in Florida?

PetTrust

Florida has a pet ownership rate of well over 50%, and this equates to over 12 million pet owners in the State. While many Florida residents focus on their human beneficiaries during the estate planning process, others worry about what will happen to their beloved dogs and cats. If this sounds familiar, you might be considering something called a “pet trust.” But is this type of trust even legal in the Sunshine State? How can a pet trust help with your estate planning in Tampa?

What Is a Pet Trust? 

A pet trust is a special type of estate planning tool that provides financial support for your pets after you pass away. It can also designate a caregiver for your pets after your passing. You can set aside a certain amount of money in your pet trust, and these funds will only be utilized for the animal’s needs. As with other trusts, these funds will be overseen by a trustee.

 What Does Florida Law Say About Pet Trusts? 

According to the Florida Bar Journal, pet trusts have been legal in the Sunshine State since 2001. Prior to this change, pets could not be named as beneficiaries to trusts in Florida – and this made planning difficult for many pet owners in the state.

In Florida, the trust may only provide for an animal until their passing. If the animal dies, the remaining funds in the trust will be distributed to any other beneficiaries named in your estate planning documents. In some other states, you could theoretically set aside funds for not only the pet themself, but also their offspring. However, this is not possible in Florida. Only pets specifically named in the trust can be beneficiaries.

What Should My Pet Trust Contain? 

A pet trust should contain designated caregivers. Speak with these individuals beforehand and ask if they’d like to take ownership of the pet if you pass away. You might want to name numerous caregivers in case your first choice is not able to fulfill their duties for whatever reason.

You should also set aside a certain amount of money for your pet. Calculate how much the pet will need for various expenses, including food, medicine, toys, grooming, and so on. You might also need to set aside a certain amount of money for the proper burial or cremation of the pet.

What Does the IRS Say About Pet Trusts?

 Despite State recognition of pet trusts, these documents are not legally enforceable according to the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS sees these documents as invalid because they define pets as “property” and not “beneficiaries.” Their logic is simple: One piece of property cannot inherit another piece of property. That being said, the IRS still considers pet trusts taxable.

Find an Estate Planning Lawyer in Tampa 

If you’re searching for a Tampa trusts lawyer, consider Knudsen Law. A consultation at our law firm can clarify many potential points of confusion – including matters related to pets. We know how important dogs and cats can be to estate planners in Florida, and we can help put the necessary safeguards into place. Reach out today to continue this discussion in more detail.

Sources: 

floridabar.org/the-florida-bar-journal/can-you-trust-your-pet-a-primer-on-florida-pet-trusts/

dogster.com/lifestyle/pet-ownership-statistics-in-florida#:~:text=Florida%20has%20a%20household%20pet,dog%20ownership%20rate%20of%2039.8%25

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