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Pet Trust Attorney Serving Charlotte

Most of us have heard of eccentric millionaires or billionaires leaving huge sums of money to their pets and may have thought such actions humorous or even pitiful. Nonetheless, those of us who have, or have had, beloved pets realize the depth of emotion involved in contemplating leaving our furry, feathered (or otherwise attired) pets without protection or love if we predecease them. Studies have shown that as many as half of all Americans now provide for their pets in their estate plans. If you have a pet, you will probably want to do the same. 

Since almost all individuals who have pets consider them part of their families, pets should not be forgotten when you are working with an estate planning attorney. Of course, your pets are not the only members of your family you want to protect and provide for. If you are a resident of Charleston County, you will do well to consult with Wiles Law Firm, LLC. We are dedicated to giving you the most comprehensive estate planning advice, guidance and service available. Our attorneys are not only skilled and knowledgeable about current state and federal law, we are concerned with your individual needs and desires.  

Why Not Just List Your Pet as a Beneficiary in Your Will?

There are two good reasons not to try to protect your pet through your will and our pet trust attorneys will be happy to discuss them with you. The first reason is that you cannot leave money directly to a pet because, although you consider your pet a member of the family, the state deems it to be property, and therefore unable to be named as a beneficiary. The second is that, even if you name a caretaker for your pet in your will, the will must go through probate, a time-consuming process. Since your pet will need immediate attention, this process is not practical. Of course, if you live with someone capable and willing to take over your role as pet parent, you may be able to make an informal, functional arrangement for your pet’s care.

How Pet Trusts Are Structured

South Carolina's pet trust law, enacted in 2006, arranges for pet trusts to follow the traditional method of trust creation. Thus, if you want to set up a trust for your pet, you will work with your pet trust attorney who will draft a legal document in which you will designate a reliable individual, or in some cases a corporate trustee, to ensure that the intended funds you’ve set aside are actually used to care for the animal or animals in question. According to South Carolina law, the pet must be precisely identified as either alive or in gestation at the time of trust creation. In this state, you (known as the settlor) can amend the trust to include an additional animal for as long as you live.When choosing the trustee for your pet, you will want to make sure that the person you choose has an affinity for animals in general and welcomes the idea of caring for this particular animal if you are not around to do so. The party chosen as trustee should be dependable, affectionate, highly responsible, and preferably well-known to the animal.

Estimating Your Pets Needs

The experienced attorneys at Wiles Law Firm will assist you in calculating how much money your pet is likely to need to cover its care during its normal lifespan. It is important to take into account all of the pets requirement for:

  • Nutrition, which may change as it ages
  • Exercise
  • Veterinary checkups
  • Necessary shots
  • Medications if they become necessary
  • Surgical procedures if needed
  • Grooming

Supplies (leashes, collars, crates or carriers, cat litter, doggy waste bags, coats, toys)

As part of your decision-making process concerning your pet trust, you should also consider whether you want your pet to undergo uncomfortable or painful procedures, such as surgery, chemotherapy or dialysis, if they will prolong its life, or whether you would prefer to have your beloved creature euthanized when the time comes. You may also specify that you want your pet’s trustee to make the necessary choice. 

Termination of Pet Trusts

The pet trust you have established will be terminated at the time of the death of the last surviving animal named in the document. You will want to discuss with one of our pet trust attorneys how you want your pet handled when it passes away -- burial? cremation? In South Carolina, your pet may be buried in a pet cemetery or on your own land, as long as local regulations are followed regarding health and safety measures, such as what the depth of the burial site.

What Happens If Your Pet Passes With Money Still in the Trust?

Depending on the size of your estate and your personal inclinations, you may want the remaining funds to go to the trustee or one of your beneficiaries. You may also want to make a donation to an organization dedicated to helping rescue animals, advocating for animal rights, protecting endangered wild animals, or promoting adoption of shelter pets. As your Wiles Law Firm pet trust attorney will explain, there are also very specific causes you may want to support in memory of your particular pet, such as an organization that focuses on rescuing golden retrievers, beagles or Siamese cats. You should be aware that if you do not stipulate otherwise, any funds remaining in the trust when your pet passes away will be distributed to the trustee or to his or her successors.

Wiles Law Firm Will Help You Keep Sharing the Love 

At Wiles Law Firm, LLC, we are more than well-schooled, esteemed attorneys; we are empathic individuals. We consider our mission to be not only offering you first-rate legal representation but providing you with peace of mind. As your pet trust attorneys we will work hard to make sure that all of your anxieties concerning how your loving companion pet will manage in your absence are resolved. You can reach us by phone, email, or through a contact form on our website.


Wiles Law Firm, LLC helps clients with their estate planning needs in Charleston, South Carolina and the surrounding areas such as West Ashley, Summerville, North Charleston, Mount Pleasant, and John's Island.

Information on this website is not legal advice. Further, viewing of the enclosed information does not create an attorney-client relationship with Wiles Law Firm, LLC. Matters will be handled by attorneys who primarily practice out of our office in Charleston County located at 852 Lowcountry Blvd., Ste. 101, Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464. M. Emerson Wiles, III is the attorney responsible for this advertisement.

Any result Wiles Law Firm, LLC may achieve on behalf of one client in one particular matter does not necessarily indicate similar results can be obtained for other clients. Please contact a South Carolina estate planning attorney or one of our attorneys with Wiles Law Firm, LLC for a consultation regarding your unique estate plan.



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852 Lowcountry Blvd., Suite 101, Mount Pleasant, SC 29464
| Phone: 843-718-0232

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