How to take care of pets through estate planning

Any pet owner would tell you that their pet is an important part of their family and their home life. Unfortunately, the news is full of stories about animals that were cast into chaos and neglect after their owner dies, either because no one know what to do, or no one cared enough to take action.

As a general matter, trusts often provide for the health and welfare of family members or other beneficiaries. Pet trusts can be created to provide for the health, care, and welfare of family pets as well, should they outlive the person or people with whom they reside. This can protect the pet or pets from being forgotten or left to fend for themselves.

Pet trusts work by transferring an amount of money into trust to provide for food, veterinary care, recreational costs, supplies, and other expenses. A trustee of the pet trust (who may be a different person than other appointed trustees) is appointed to receive possession of the animal or animals, and will have responsibility for their care. The purpose of the pet trust is to ensure the same quality of life for the animal as the original owner would have provided. They also can appoint a third person to ensure that proper care and good living conditions are being provided, and funds are being used by the trustee appropriately.

Once funded, the pet trust will provide the animal with a safety net that ensures that proper care will continue to be available.