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. 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 >>
Related Articles
  1. Investing

    3 Reasons Why Pet Stocks Could Be Recession-Proof

    Consumers are spending increasingly more on their animals, regardless of how the economy is doing.
  2. Investing

    Top 3 Pet Food Stocks of 2016 (BUFF, SPB)

    The pet food industry rakes in more than $22 billion annually. Consider these top stock picks for 2016.
  3. Insurance

    What You Need To Know About Pet Wellness Plans

    Here's a breakdown of wellness plans and pet insurance, and some tips for keeping your pet healthy.
  4. Investing

    Citi Sees ‘Premiumization’ in Pet Food Category

    Report says ‘humanization’ of household pets Is good news for these companies.
  5. Managing Wealth

    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.
  6. Financial Advisor

    Are The Wealthy Better Served By Trusts Or Wills?

    Trusts and wills are both means to pass on wealth to heirs. Which of these is likely to serve your needs better if you have considerable wealth?
  7. Insurance

    5 Types Of Insurance You Can (And Should) Afford

    With insurance and warranties being offered on seemingly everything, it's hard to know what policies are worth your money. Learn about five affordable insurance policies that are worth considering.
RELATED TERMS
  1. Pet Insurance

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

    A trust is a fiduciary relationship in which the trustor gives ...
  3. Trust Fund

    A trust fund is a fund comprised of a variety of assets intended ...
  4. Testamentary Trust

    A testamentary trust is a legal and fiduciary relationship created ...
  5. Beneficiary Of Trust

    A beneficiary of trust is a person for whom a trust was created, ...
  6. Trust Company

    A legal entity that acts as fiduciary, agent or trustee on behalf ...
Hot Definitions
  1. SEC Form 13F

    A filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), also known as the Information Required of Institutional Investment ...
  2. Fixed Asset

    A long-term tangible piece of property that a firm owns and uses in the production of its income and is not expected to be ...
  3. Absolute Advantage

    The ability of a country, individual, company or region to produce a good or service at a lower cost per unit than the cost ...
  4. Nonce

    Nonce is a number added to a hashed block, that, when rehashed, meets the difficulty level restrictions.
  5. Coupon

    The annual interest rate paid on a bond, expressed as a percentage of the face value. It is also referred to as the "coupon ...
  6. Socially Responsible Investment - SRI

    Socially responsible investing looks for investments that are considered socially conscious because of the nature of the ...
Trading Center