Pet Trusts

Also known as “Animal Care Trusts”, these legal documents are part of many individuals’ estate plans and they answer the question, “Who will take care of my pet(s) after I’m gone?”

A pet owner may set aside funds or assets in a trust to be used for the care and maintenance of a pet after the pet owner has died. Remember, an animal cannot “inherit” funds from its owner. The trust names the person or persons who are to personally care for the pet as well as naming a “trustee” to manage the funds in the trust for that pet’s care. The trust can define the exact care and maintenance you want performed for your pet, as well as describe the pet’s favorite treats, toys and feeding and play routines.

Some mistakenly think it’s enough to simply leave money in one’s will to a person that they trust to take care of the pet. You should know, however, that the person who receives that money is not under any legal obligation to use it for your pet, or, in fact, to carry out any of your requests for pet care after you have died. What if that person changes their mind after you are gone, or is unable to honor their promise for any of a number of reasons? Your pet could end up in a shelter or worse, and there is no legal recourse.

On the other hand, a trust for your pet creates a legally enforceable obligation for the trustee to make sure that your wishes are carried out for the benefit of your pet.