WHY CREATE PET TRUST FUNDS IN CALIFORNIA
Aug. 10, 2016
When an individual dies, his or her pets are generally considered to be property. Therefore, they could be sent to a shelter if there is nothing in an estate plan providing for their care. However, it may be possible to create a trust that provides for such care. The trust itself is overseen by a trustee who then distributes assets to a caregiver for the benefit of the pet.
Leaving money in a trust may be preferable because leaving money or other assets to a pet through a will could lead to legal challenges. With a trust a pet owner could determine how much to pay the caregiver, how much to reimburse for expenses and include language allowing for random inspections. This would allow the trustee to ensure that the pet was actually being cared for with money given to the caregiver.
Individuals who are planning their pet's care after their own death should think about adding more than one caretaker. Doing so may be beneficial if the animal could outlive the current caretaker. Parrots may live up to 100 years while even a dog or cat could outlive a caregiver if something unexpected were to happen to that person. It is also important to provide enough money to care for the pet, which could be as little as a few hundred dollars or up to $100,000.
Those who have pets may wish to provide for their care as part of comprehensive estate planning. It may be worthwhile to discuss with an attorney the best way to provide for their care such as creating a pet trust. Such a trust may allow a pet owner to name a caregiver or multiple caregivers as well as the trustee who may act in that pet's best interest.