The number of households in America owning pets is at a record high – 68 percent. Many people think of their pets as family members and want to make sure they are well provided for should something happen to them.
More and more people are making provisions in their wills to provide for these animals after they are gone. In order to ensure that your pet is cared for as you intend, it’s important to set up a pet trust – an arrangement that most states permit. An attorney experienced in probate and estate planning litigation can help you ensure that your pet is protected and cared for after your gone.
While some people leave thousands of dollars for the care of a pet, most pet owners allocate only enough to cover necessities like food and veterinary care. Did you know that from 2010 to 2012, the percentage of dog owners making such arrangements rose from 5% to 9%?
Recognizing the desire of Californians to have a means to care for their companion animals after death, California legislature enacted Probate Code Section 15212, the Pet Trust Law. According to the law, “A person can create a trust for the care of a designated domestic or pet animal for the life of the animal. The duration will only be for the life of the pet, even if the trust instrument contemplates a longer duration.”
In a properly drafted Pet Trust a pet owner can:
- Name the pet(s) as the beneficiary of a Will or Trust
- Appoint a caretaker for the pet and a trustee who will manage the money for the pet
- Appoint someone to enforce the trust to ensure that the trust’s terms are carried out as the owner desired
The trustee pays the pet’s bills and oversees the performance of its caretaker; however, trustees can double as caretakers. Be sure those you appoint want to perform their duties and name a successor just in case.
Pet trusts can take effect either after you die or while you’re alive. The latter provides for care of the pet in the event you suffer an accident or illness that leaves you unable to take care of your animal.
When you can no longer take care of your pet for any reason during your life or after your death, promises by family or friends may be forgotten or broken. It is truly important to create a legally enforceable plan to protect your beloved pet.
If you have questions regarding a Pet Trust or any other type of Estate Planning, contact the Family Law offices of Holstrom, Block & Parke for the answers and options you need.
We have offices in Riverside, San Bernardino, and Orange Counties for your convenience.