What is a Pet Trust?

Do you love your pets? Most of us consider our pets to be part of the family. Many of you ask me how you can take care of your furry friends just as you would a child or family member if something should happen. The most common way is to include them in your trust or will by stating your intent for your pet to your successor trustee or executor in it.

The necessary elements for a pet trust are the pet owner, who plans the estate and includes the pet trust as a part of the estate plan.

If you create a trust then you would create a fixed or variable amount of money that, will not go to your beneficiaries, but will be held by your successor trustee, for the care of your beloved pets. The terms of the pet trust, like most revocable trusts, can be changed during your lifetime according to the trust document and becomes irrevocable at death. You can specify your intent for your pets in the trust, including:

  • If you want your pets to stay together after death;
  • The type of home should be found for them;
  • Named recipients of the animals;
  • If the pets will stay with you during incapacity; and
  • Determining the mount of money for care of pets, etc.

Funding Your Pet Trust

Essentially, the money to fund a pet trust can come from anywhere in your estate. Funding for a pet trust is optional but it will ensure the best care for them. Funds can be a percentage of the estate or a fixed amount, similar to beneficiary provisions. They can come from a specified source, such as, an insurance policy, bank account, 401(k), or even a portion of the sale of a home. Otherwise, the funds can come out of the estate unspecified.

How Much Money?

When you decide how much to leave for your pet’s care there re many factors should be considered, such as, the following:

  • How many pets are included?
  • Should you include future pets?
  • What type of pets are they?
  • How long are they expected to live?
  • Does the pet trustee or caretaker need funds to keep the pets?
  • Is the pet trustee going to be compensated from the remaining funds after the pets pass, or should the pet trustee receive compensation?

The trustee is the person who manages the funds in a pet trust. Always consider alternatives in case the first choice is unavailable. In the pet trust, it is the trustee who passes the pet to the pet caretaker, who then acts as the new owner.

What About Future Pets?

Since you never know when you are going to pass away you should think about including future pets in your trust documents. All pets owned by you, including those the you do not yet have at the time the documents are written, should be included. It saves the effort of having to execute a trust amend or create a new document every time a pet dies or a new one is adopted into your family. Including the term “all my pets” in your trust documents will accomplish this.

Coastal Pacific Law attorneys are experienced in estate planning, and can help with your trust administration, probate administration, wills and trusts. To schedule a complimentary consultation, call (619)786-6563, or fill out a Contact Request Form.

This blog does not provide legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney directly.