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  • Writer's pictureGreg Christiansen

Pet Trusts: Planning and Providing for Your Pet

Many people today own pets who have served them as close companions and friends. But, what will become of your pet after you pass away? Luckily, this is something that you can plan for by meeting with an estate planning attorney and setting up a pet trust.

Pet trusts are allowed in almost every state and can be created for any animal that is alive during your lifetime. With a pet trust, you can control who takes care of your pet and how, even after you have passed away. Additionally, pet trusts can take effect during your lifetime if you were to become incapacitated from illness, injury, etc.

When creating a pet trust, you become the “grantor” of the trust. As the grantor, you must designate one person to be the “trustee” and one person to be the “caregiver.” The trustee will be the person who holds property or money in trust for the benefit of your pet. Trustees will not care for your pet, but they can be used to ensure that your pet is being cared for by the caregiver in the way you have detailed in the trust. The caregiver is the person who you designate to take custody of your pet and care for them day-to-day.

Choosing a caregiver is an important decision. Before listing a person as the caregiver in your pet trust, first ask them if they’d be willing to take on that responsibility. Additionally, you can also name an alternate caregiver in your trust just in case your first choice is unable to perform.

Pet trusts are typically very detailed. Oftentimes, pet trusts give instructions as to how much money you want allocated to your pet’s care and how your pet should be cared for. As the grantor, these decisions are completely up to you. When deciding on how much money to leave your pet, make your best estimation and take into consideration your pet’s age and condition. Additionally, the amount you leave your pet will need to last for the duration of its lifetime. Do be careful if you are considering leaving your pet an extremely large sum of money. These gifts can be contested in court and the court can choose to reduce the amount that you’ve left to your pet. Care instructions for your pet can include anything you would like the caregiver to follow when caring for your pet. These instructions may detail what type of food your pet prefers or how often your pet needs to be bathed or walked.

Leaving your pet with a detailed plan in the form of a pet trust is a great way to ensure that your pet is cared for and loved, even after you’re gone. Take the time to research pet trusts and decide whether or not they will serve your needs. Estate planning attorneys can answer any questions you may have about pet trusts and help you set one up.


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