Most people in our country own pets and may want to provide for the continued care of their pets if they are incapacitated or pass away.
Trusts for pets were honorary until just recently, meaning you could establish a trust for your pet but they were not legally enforceable. Under the new law in California which went into effect January 1, 2009 ( Probate Code, Section 15212) , pet owners can set up a trust to leave money for the care of their pets if they become incapacitated or die. A pet can be any domesticated animal - dog, cat, bird, reptile, horse, pot bellied pig, etc.
A trustee is named to manage and disburse the funds. You can provide special instructions on the care of your pet. You can also appoint a caregiver to care for the pet which could be the trustee or another individual. You can designate whether the trustee and caregiver should be paid and how much. The amount you set aside in the trust to care for your pet or pets depends on the type of pet, age of pet, and factoring in the possibility that the pet might need surgery or veterinary care during its lifetime. The trust is enforceable by any person interested in the welfare of animals or by the trustee named in the trust. The trust provides for the care of your pet until the death of the pet, at which time remaining funds are distributed to remainder beneficiaries.
You can set up a stand alone pet trust for your animals or provisions which are part of your own estate plan. Many people who live alone and have no one to care for their pet decide to create a pet trust. People who own horses or other animals with long life expectancies or special caregiving needs often put pet trust provisions into their own living trust. For questions about pet trusts or to create one for your pets (or ones you might own in the future), call me for a free consultation.