August 11, 2021

Pet Trusts: Estate Planning for Pet Owners

Most pet owners are deeply concerned for the wellbeing of their pets, should they die unexpectedly. Pet Trusts are a powerful tool to care for your pets and bring peace of mind.

How can I provide for my pets after I die?

The instrument most frequently used to care of your pets after you die is a Pet Trust. A Pet Trust can be its own document or trust created under another trust. In a Pet Trust, you allocate a portion of your estate (a percentage or dollar amount) that will be used to care for any animals you own at the time of your death.

Who cares for my pets after I die?

Your pets would be cared for by whomever you select as Pet Trustee. Likewise, it is best practice to include a few additional back-up Pet Trustees.

What happens to any leftover money after my pets have died?

If there are any remaining funds in a Pet Trust they will go to the person or charity you select as the contingent beneficiary.

Is there any risk of someone neglecting my pets or taking the money in my Pet Trust?

One way to protect against neglect or other Trustee issues is to appoint a “Pet Enforcer.” This is an individual that ensures your pets and the Pet Trust funds are appropriately managed. If there was an issue, the Pet Enforcer could have the Trustee removed and have a new Trustee appointed.

To learn more about Pet Trusts, speak with an experienced estate planning attorney.


This article represents the opinion of the author and is intended for educational purposes. This article does not constitute legal advice, nor does it create an attorney-client relationship. One should always consult with an experienced attorney before making estate planning decisions.

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