Protecting Your Pup: Pet Trusts in Louisiana

Yall know I love my dog Tubbs. She is not only the cutest Bassador you've ever seen, but she is also probably the most "famous". I wrote "infamous" and she told me I was being rude. I think it's rude when people acknowledge her first before me but you don't see me complaining about it, do you Tubbs? Ok- we digress.

Did you know that you can form a Pet Trust in Louisiana? If you're like most folx, you're probably thinking, "Ma'am, I'm not insane like you so I do not care." First of all: RUDE. But secondly, it is really not that far-fetched at all (pun intended). Let's dig into the details and see if a Slidell pet trust lawyer may be something that you want to consider.

What Is A Trust?

Aside from being a classic Billy Joel song ("Only Just A Matter of Trust" you uncultured swine), it is also a legal mechanism that establishes what happens to your property. Business owners use trusts all the time and for good reason. The gist of a trust is that the trust owns whatever assets are inside of it. Those assets are meant to be used for and for the benefit of a person or group of people known as the beneficiaries. The person who manages the Trust is known as a "trustee".

Are There Different Types of Trusts?

Boy howdy are there. Sorry, I just thought I was Woody from Toy Story right there. So what are the two types of trusts in Louisiana?

  1. Testamentary Trust ("Inter Vivos"): This type of Trust is laid out in your will. A will in the legal world is known as a testament. I can hear the light bulbs going off above your heads right now. This trust becomes active only when you have died.
  1. Living Trust: This type of Trust does not wait for you to croak. You can set this up right now while you are.... "alive". That is why it is called a "Living Trust". You stick property (real estate, cars, whatever you want) in it now for the benefit of others. A lot of folx will do Family Trusts. It's important you make sure the donations to the Trust or future purchases are done properly.

There are tax concerns to consider with any type of Trust so make sure you talk to a licensed accountant about this before you set one up. Unless your lawyer is an accountant, they cannot advise you about tax issues. Meaning do not ask me about it but if you do I will send you to a CPA.

You wouldn't come to Tubbs for medical advice even though she is wearing scrubs. Make sure you talk a Slidell pet trust lawyer and Slidell pet trust CPA before making any decisions.

What Is A Pet Trust?

Back in 2015 Louisiana enacted La. R.S. 9:2263 entitled “Trust for the Care of an Animal” which gets lovingly called a “Pet Trust.” True to form, we were one of the last remaining states to establish pet trusts in our laws. It's a trust meant to take care of your beloved animal(s) whether you are alive or when you've passed on. In a pet trust, the assets can only be used to care for the animal (or each animal if you have more than one) and to pay (compensate) the Trustee and caregiver of the animal. It can also pay for some expenses of the Trustee and caregiver.

You could even have a Trust for your Louisiana emotional support animal, New Orleans service dog, or your Slidell therapy dog.

Assets Substantially Exceeding Reasonable Amounts

Beware: a Louisiana court may determine that the value of the trust “substantially exceeds the amount required to care for each animal and for reasonable compensation and expenses of the trustee and the caregiver.” If they do that then they can partially terminate the trust or reduce the amounts.

What would be reasonable depends on what type of life and expenses your dog had before the Trust was created. If Tubbs lived in a dog house outside her whole life (she doesn't) and then the trust money or assets were being used to build her a Doggie Taj Mahal then that's not likely reasonable. Conversely if Tubbs took dog spa trips every summer where she was groomed, got acupuncture, and ate filet mignon, then that would be reasonable.

The reality is that most folks just want to make sure their animals are cared for when they have passed on. This means a caregiver is named (or if you are like me you have a few alternatives in case that person dies, becomes incapacitated, or just does not want my dog- HOW DARE THEY!), a trustee is named (and, again, alternatives), a set amount is donated, and you have peace of mind knowing your pup is going to be taken care of when you pass or, if you do a living trust, if you become incapacitated.

"Cool story Amber, but what if I want to set up a pet trust in Louisiana?"

What Happens To The Pet Trust When The Pet Dies?

A pet trust will end when the pet (or last surviving pet if there is more than one pet in the trust) dies. So what happens to the assets? It will go to the person who created the trust if it's a living trust or if they have passed away then it goes to who inherited from them at their death. Your trust can list what you want to happen.

Before you make any decisions make sure to talk to a licensed attorney in your state about your certain set of facts. There are always nuances in the law and this blog is not meant to be legal advice. You can schedule a consultation for a nominal fee by contacting us using this form or calling/texting the office at 985-265-7196.

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