Using a pet trust to ensure your pet is cared for after you die

Pet owners take their responsibilities towards their furry friends seriously. They want to care for their pet as long as they live. For some, this also means making plans for the possibility that their pet will outlive them.

Pet trusts are one way pet owners can provide for the care of their pet after they die.

The management of pet trust funds

In California, pet owners can create a trust for the care of their pet after they pass away, although the trust is not considered charitable for tax purposes. Pet trusts are effective and enforceable until the pet passes away, unless stated otherwise in the trust document.

There are rules regarding the use of funds in a pet trust and who will manage them. The funds in the trust cannot be used by the trustee for personal purposes or used for any other reason other than the care and well-being of the pet. If there is no trustee named in the trust instrument, the court will appoint a trustee.

What happens to the pet trust after the animal dies?

Once the pet dies and the trust ends, the trustee should first pass on the remaining trust funds per the directions of the trust document. If the trust was executed as part of the pet owner’s will, any residuary clauses in the will stating how remaining trust funds are to pass upon the death of the pet should be followed.

If there is no clause in the pet trust or the owner’s will regarding the distribution of the remaining trust funds following the pet’s death, the remaining trust funds will go to the pet owner’s heirs via state laws of inheritance in the absence of a will or trust.

Discuss the pet trust with the trustee

Many pet owners worry about what will happen to their pets if they pass away. They want to ensure their pet will be cared for by a loving person of their choosing.

It is important to discuss the care of the pet with the selected trustee prior to death, to ensure the trustee is willing and able to care for the pet as well as manage the trust funds allocated to the pet. In this way, a person can be selected who will provide the pet with good care and use the funds in the pet trust in a responsible manner.