11th Jan 2013
You love your relatives. Thus, you plan for something to leave behind when you pass away. You love your pets. Yes, you can also plan for their care and protection after you have gone to the afterlife.
In California, there are statutes that allow courts to consider pet trusts with the objective of carrying out the wishes of the trustor. This means that the law mandates the courts to interpret the trustor’s pet trusts with the trustor’s intent in mind. In other words, the trustor is given full benefit of the doubt.
In practice, pet trusts are quite similar to a trust established for a minor child. Thus, it should designate a guardian to look after the pet and the trustor should identify a trustee who will manage the funds in the trust and allocate those funds for the welfare of your pet. To draft a good pet trust, you may consult an estate planning attorney.
In a pet trust, it would help if the trustor can specify how the fund will be spent. Items that are best specified include: types of food, pet grooming, exercise routines, shelter in the cases when the guardian is on vacation, medical care (including identifying specific veterinarian or clinic), care for allergies, special treatment cases of serious illness or injury, and issues such as whether your pet should be euthanized or die naturally and whether your pet should be cremated or interred.
Your pet trust should also consider providing a stipend to the caregiver for as long as your pet lives. This should motivate the guardian to take care of your pet for as long as he lives. You should also consider what happens to the trust fund after your pet dies. To avoid conflict of interest, it is best that the trust fund go into the hands of family members rather than to the caregiver. In this regard, a lawyer with expertise in estate planning can help you,
You must approach the selection of a guardian with the same care as in selecting an employee. If after several interviews, you still do not have a candidate, you may want to source out an organization that deals with pet rescue which stipulates a “no kill” policy and which also has a mission to finding suitable shelters for pets. Hence, in the absence of a guardian, your pet trust may instruct your trustee to bring your pet to such a pet rescue organization when you are incapacitated or when you die.
Also, if your pet lives a very long life it may even outlive the available funds! In such cases, your pet trust may stipulate that your guardian then delivers your pet to a pet rescue organization. It is best to approach a pet trust in a way similar to that for a minor child. For your pet trusts, see an estate planning attorney in your area. Our Law firm is located in Orange County and we can help in drafting pet trusts as a part of your estate plan.