A:

A 1993 law, Section 2-907 of the Uniform Probate Code, changed the treatment of a deceased individual's pet from that of a piece of property to an entity that requires care. As a result, it is possible to ensure that your pets will be provided for after you pass away, not just by willing them to a trusted friend or relative, but through the establishment of a trust.
Pet trusts can establish a way to care for your pet after you die; they can also establish a way to care for your pet if you become unable to do so while you are still alive. The former is called a testamentary trust; the latter is called an inter-vivos trust.

Pet trust laws vary by state, and it's essential to understand these laws when providing for your pet. If you don't have a legal background, it might make sense to hire an attorney familiar with making legal provisions to care for pets after the owner's death. Both types of trusts establish who will care for your pet. They also appoint a trustee whose job is to ensure that your designated caretaker is actually caring for your pet.

A relative could challenge your pet trust in court, and if he or she wins the case, your pet may receive a smaller trust amount and your relative may receive the difference. You can prevent this outcome by paying for a pet retirement home while you are still alive or providing for your pet to receive care through an animal sanctuary. You can also attach a piece of real estate that you own to your pets, and provide for a caretaker to live rent-free on the requirement that he or she care for your animals. Another limitation of pet trusts is that they expire 21 years after your death, so if your pet's expected lifespan is longer than this, it may be difficult to ensure that they receive the care you desire.

Even if you don't want to leave your entire estate to your pet, you will probably want to make some provisions for its care after your incapacitation or death. Without a specific legal document that provides for your pet, the worst-case scenario is that it could be abandoned or taken to an animal shelter and put to sleep. Simply willing your pet to a trusted friend or relative, with contingent beneficiaries in case that friend or relative's death precedes yours, can be enough to ensure that your pet will remain happy and healthy when you are no longer able to care for him or her. However, if your goal is to leave your entire estate to your pet, consult an attorney who can help you establish a pet trust.

RELATED FAQS
  1. Does renters insurance cover pet damage?

    Understand the potential snags when it comes to renting a place as a pet owner, and become wiser when it comes to liability ... Read Answer >>
  2. How does CareCredit for pets work?

    Understand how using a CareCredit credit card aids pet parents in the payment of potentially high veterinary care costs. Read Answer >>
  3. What is the difference between an intervivos trust and a testamentary trust?

    Understand the differences between a testamentary trust and an inter-vivos (living) trust, and learn why each is important ... Read Answer >>
  4. What are the keys to setting up a trust fund?

    Setting up a trust to secure your assets for a beneficiary allows you to set the terms under which the beneficiaries are ... Read Answer >>
  5. What is the difference between revocable and irrevocable intervivos trusts?

    Learn what an inter-vivos trust is, the difference between an irrevocable and a revocable inter-vivos trust, and why it is ... Read Answer >>
  6. What happens when a will and a revocable trust conflict?

    Learn why a revocable trust supersedes a will, but only for the assets held in the trust, when there is a conflict between ... Read Answer >>
Related Articles
  1. Insurance

    Here's How To Care For Your Pet (Financially) After You're Dead

    Find out how to protect and provide for your pet after you pass away.
  2. Insurance

    Is Pet Insurance Worth The Price?

    Should you insure your pet? Here's how pet insurance works and how to decide if it's worth buying this coverage.
  3. Personal Finance

    Conclusion

    In the U.S., 62% of households have pets. These are some of the most common pets in the U.S. and the average costs associated with raising them.
  4. Personal Finance

    Costs To Own The Most Popular Pets

    In the U.S., 62% of households have pets. These are some of the most common pets in the U.S. and the average costs associated with raising them.
  5. Insurance

    What Pet Insurance Actually Covers

    If you buy insurance for your pet, what will it cover – and what will you still have to pay for?
  6. Investing

    Pets

    Did you know that depending on the breed, your pet may be excluded from your homeowner's policy?
  7. Personal Finance

    Pet Clothing and Accessories

    Fads are always coming and going, but some have shown unexpected staying power.
  8. Home & Auto

    The Hidden Cost of Owning a Pet – Rent

    Sure, food, doggy daycare and the vet add up. But rent? Here are the top five priciest – and the five cheapest – cities for pet owners.
  9. Personal Finance

    Pet Rock

    These ridiculous inexpensive items made millions for the inventors behind them.
  10. Personal Finance

    5 (Mostly) Costly Exotic Pets You Can Legally Own

    Exotic pets can be fascinating to look at, but most are expensive to acquire and maintain. And avoid being bitten, especially if you get a scorpion.
RELATED TERMS
  1. Pet Insurance

    A policy purchased by the owner of a pet that will lessen the ...
  2. Living Trust

    A property interest created during a person's life that allows ...
  3. Beneficiary Of Trust

    A beneficiary of trust is a person for whom a trust was created, ...
  4. Irrevocable Income-Only Trust - IIOT

    A type of living trust often used for Medicaid planning. It protects ...
  5. Pour-Over Will

    A will established by an individual who has already taken the ...
  6. Credit Shelter Trust - CST

    A type of trust that allows a married investor to avoid estate ...

You May Also Like

Hot Definitions
  1. Law Of Demand

    A microeconomic law that states that, all other factors being equal, as the price of a good or service increases, consumer ...
  2. Cost Of Debt

    The effective rate that a company pays on its current debt. This can be measured in either before- or after-tax returns; ...
  3. Yield Curve

    A line that plots the interest rates, at a set point in time, of bonds having equal credit quality, but differing maturity ...
  4. Stop-Limit Order

    An order placed with a broker that combines the features of stop order with those of a limit order. A stop-limit order will ...
  5. Keynesian Economics

    An economic theory of total spending in the economy and its effects on output and inflation. Keynesian economics was developed ...
  6. Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications ...

    A member-owned cooperative that provides safe and secure financial transactions for its members. Established in 1973, the ...
Trading Center