Many pet owners worry about what will happen to their animals when they pass away. Fortunately, California law allows for the creation and establishment of something called a “pet trust,” which allows pet owners to legally set aside funds to be applied towards the lifetime care of their furry, feathery and scaly family members.
A pet trust is typically created as a sub-trust, which branches out of the main trust agreement, but it can also be designed as a standalone trust or created through a will. Because a person cannot distribute funds directly to an animal, a pet trust enables an individual to designate certain funds to be set aside in a separate trust account. The account would then be managed by a trustee for the benefit of that person’s pets for the duration of the animals’ lives.
In order to create a valid pet trust, the following requirements must be met: (1) the trust must be created for the benefit of a domestic animal; (2) the trustor must designate a person to serve as trustee of the trust; (3) the funds must be exclusively used for the benefit of the animal; and (4) the trust must terminate upon the death of all animals for whom the trust was created.
Once established, funds from a pet trust can be used to pay for any items or services that directly benefit the animals, including but not limited to, food, medication, veterinary care, toys, grooming, training, bedding, boarding and other comfort items.
If you are interested in learning more about how you can incorporate your pets into your estate plan, you should consider consulting with an experienced estate planning attorney to learn more about pet trusts.
Allyson S. Heller is a licensed attorney at the Law Offices of Tony J. Tyre, ESQ, APC. For more information, please contact our office at (626) 858-9378, or