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What Actually Is A Pet Trust?


A pet trust is a way for a person to transfer funds to be held for the ongoing care and expense of their pets. According to the probate code in California, pet trusts are presumed to be valid if they meet just a few requirements, which we’ll talk about in a little bit.

What Are The Main Types Of Pet Trusts?

There are two types of pet trusts that are differentiated by when they are established. An inter vivos pet trust is created during the life of the pet owner and is funded during that person’s lifetime. The other is a testamentary pet trust that’s created by the owner’s trust or will and is to be funded after their death.

What Information Is Typically Included In A Pet Trust?

The information that is typically included in a pet trust is a description of the pets that are covered by the trust, and instructions for the pets’ care. The instructions can be very specific, such as which veterinarian’s office you would like them to go to, what types of food you would want them to have, and whether you would want them sleeping indoors or outdoors. It also includes the names of the people who would be in charge of managing the money and actually caring for the pets.

How Should I Fund A Pet Trust?

The way in which you should fund a pet trust will depend on which type of trust it is. If it’s a statutory or inter vivos trust during your lifetime, then you just place some of your assets to be held for the benefit of your pets into an account that is titled to that trust. Money can be added to that account throughout your lifetime. If it’s a testamentary trust, then your trust or will determines how much money will be set aside to go into the trust.

How Much Should I Put Into My Pet Trust?

Determining how much money to put into a pet trust is probably the hardest thing for people to decide. Since the pet trust can only pay for the actual expenses of the pet, we would ask the client to estimate how much they spend on their pet per year, and then add a little bit in case of the need for emergency veterinarian visits. We would then multiply that number by the number of years they expect their pet to live, and add a little bit for a buffer. Payment for the caregiver is not allowed in a pet trust; pet trust funds can only be used for the pet and not for the person caring for the pet.

What Happens If I Put Too Much Money In The Trust?

If you put a little bit too much money in the trust, then there will just be some money left over when the pet dies. If you put a lot of money in the trust (for example, one million dollars for one dog and one cat), then your family members or other residual beneficiaries of your estate could go to court and challenge that amount as being excessive and could have it reduced.

Who Should I Select To Act As Trustee Of My Pet Trust?

As with any other trustee decision, you want a person who is trustworthy and who won’t use the funds for their own purposes. You also want to look for someone who is diligent and follows through with a task once they start it. You don’t want a procrastinator; you want someone who will be right on top of things. You also want someone who has a basic understanding of how to invest and maintain funds for an extended period of time, because their job is going to last as long as the pet lives.

For more information on Pet Trusts In California, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (626) 385-6303 today.

Newell & Havens Attorney At Law

Call for a free assessment of your needs
(626) 385-6303.

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