Today’s Miami Herald reports on the steady increase in pet trusts. Forty three states, including New York, have laws enabling the creation of a pet trust to provide for the welfare of a beloved cat or dog (no reason why one can’t also provide for a parakeet or fish) after its owner has passed away (Yes, yes, I recognize that there is a real question as to whether the human owns the pet or it’s the other way around. This is especially true with cats!). 

The average pet trust, says the Herald, is about fifty thousand dollars but they can range in size from a few thousand up to the many millions set aside in trust by Leona Helmsley for her dog.

It is also important to note that while more and more folks are utilizing the law to create trusts to provide for their pets, eighty per cent of all Americans have NO estate planning documents in place. Clearly, a word to the wise is in order here. With the end of 2010 in sight and the likelihood of a revised tax code just around the corner, it is a good idea to consult your lawyer and financial expert to make an estate plan. While the fear that without a will the state gets all your money is an unfounded myth, the fact is that without a will or a good estate plan there is a good chance that your financial pie may be divided amongst some relatives you do not want to share in it –at the expense of some you do.