In 2008, lawmakers in California made it more convenient for pet owners to create enforceable pet trusts. In the years since 2008, more California pet owners have included provisions for their pets in their wills and estate plans.
The Benefits of a Pet Trust
A pet trust lets you leave resources and directions for the care of the animals you love if you die or become unable to take care of them. You can name a caretaker for the pet and a trustee to disburse the funds and ensure that your wishes are carried out. To learn more about pet trusts or any other aspect of estate planning, have a discussion with an experienced Orange County estate planning attorney.
Your pet’s caretaker and your pet trust’s trustee may be the same person, but it’s probably best to delegate these responsibilities to different people. You should also appoint a remainder beneficiary to receive any remaining funds after all pets covered by the trust are deceased. That person probably should not be the caretaker. Many pet owners name a non-profit group concerned in some way with animal welfare.
Avoid Overfunding the Trust
Pet owners should not put more money into a pet trust than the trust will actually need. In many cases, larger amounts are likely to generate legal disputes among heirs and beneficiaries.
Pet trusts are typically established as one part of a larger estate plan. Pet trusts may be included in a will, a living trust, or a stand-alone trust. However, your will only goes into effect upon your death, so it can’t be used to care for your pet(s) if you become disabled. A pet trust can.
Start the Estate Planning Process Early
It’s never too early to begin the estate planning process, especially if other people – or pets – depend on you. Learn more about pet trusts and a variety of estate planning options by speaking as quickly as possible with an experienced Orange County estate planning attorney.