How pet trusts work

If you consider your companion animal a part of your family, you may want to ensure his or her care continues after you die. It may be sad to think about your pet outliving you, but you can dedicate finances to pet care and lay out specific directions by creating a pet trust. 

You may be able to simply leave your pet to someone in your will, but this does not allow you to allocate funds or specify many details. Here is a basic overview of pet trusts and some suggestions to keep in mind. 

Why it is a good idea

Caring for your pet requires money, and you cannot simply leave any funds directly to an animal. A trust is a vehicle for holding any cash or other assets you want to dedicate to your pet. It also allows you to lay out unique arrangements and directions that you cannot accomplish via other estate planning documents. 

How it works

When creating a pet trust, you name a trustee who will hold the property for the benefit of your pet, including veterinary care, grooming, feeding and boarding. You can decide the amount and consistency of payments for the trustee to make to a caregiver you name. The trust is a legal arrangement that the trustee must follow, which guarantees proper care of your pet. 

Special considerations

Nobody knows exactly how to care for your pet as you do. That said, a trust allows you to go into detail about various aspects of your pet’s care:

  • The standard of living you wish to continue
  • The level of care you expect your pet to receive
  • Any successor caregivers
  • How frequent the caregiver should update the trustee about the pet’s status
  • What happens to any remaining funds when your pet passes away
  • Instructions for cremation or burial

Setting up a pet trust can give you peace of mind.