Should the Trustee and Caregiver Be the Same Person?

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In a Pet Trust, you will name both a caregiver/guardian (the person who will provide care to your pet), and a trustee (the person who will manage the money used to care for your pet).

Both can be the same person, and the biggest advantage is simplicity. A guardian who is both the caregiver and trustee will have sole authority to access and direct how your pet’s funds are used. A close friend or family member you trust in both financial and pet-care matters can be named to both positions. However, as any estate planning attorney would tell you, money and death sometimes makes people act irrationally, so only go this route if you trust them completely.

Alternatively, you can name someone else as the trustee, and the biggest advantage is accountability. The trustee can require the caregiver/guardian to provide receipts proving that the funds are spent according to the terms of your trust or ?????. There are also options for professional trustees who you can hire in exchange for a percentage of the trust’s funds.

Naming a separate trustee can also be helpful if your preferred guardians cannot care of your pet themselves and must find a new home. The trust’s funds may continue to be used for your pet’s care, but with the oversight of your chosen trustee, giving you more confidence that your pet’s needs are being met.