Pet Trusts

Pet Trusts

Generally, people who have pets consider them part of the family and often want to ensure that if their pets outlive them, the pets will be well taken care of for the rest of their lives. A pet owner who wants to take care of his or her pet in this way can make a request to the pet in a will, but this is not the best way to ensure that a pet is taken care of.

Unfortunately, the law considers pets property, and it is difficult for a pet to inherit directly from a will. However, most states have enacted laws which allow a pet to be named as a beneficiary in a trust. A pet owner can use these laws to create a trust and name a pet as the trust beneficiary. The owner would also have to select a trustee to administer the trust and manage the trust assets for the benefit of the pet.

If the pet named as a beneficiary is not living by the time the owner dies, the trust assets cannot be transferred to another pet. The trust would be terminated at that point because its terms cannot be fulfilled.

The trustee to be selected to administer the pet trust should be selected with as much care as a trustee for any other kind of trust. While the law has some safeguards to ensure that a trustee does not use trust assets for his or her own benefit, it is best to have a trustworthy trustee who would only use and manage the assets for the benefit of the named pet beneficiary.

The pet owner may wish to leave his entire estate to the pet through the trust. However, depending on the value of the estate, whether the pet owner has other heirs, and other factors, a court can reduce the amount left to a pet to what is reasonably enough to care for the pet.

Once the pet dies, if there are any assets still left in the trust, it is distributed according to the trust documents. If the trust documents do not leave instructions on how the assets are to be distributed, the assets would be distributed according to the will or any other documents that may show the testator’s intent as to how the assets should be distributed. The testator’s heirs are usually the ultimate beneficiaries of left-over assets from pet trusts. If the pet owner does not wish the heirs to get the assets, he or she should include a clause detailing who should get the assets after the pet dies. 

Contact a Lawyer for More Information
To discuss how you can use a trust to take care of your pet after you pass away, and get more information about trusts in general, contact a lawyer, like a wills and trusts lawyer from Yee Law Group, are eager to assist you today.