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What should I consider when creating a pet trust?

California parents love their children more than anything -- well, almost more than anything. Many parents arguably love their pet dogs and cats just as much as their human children. The problem is, dogs and cats are considered property under the law and they can't, themselves, own property. As such, this creates some challenges for those who want to ensure that their animals are well taken care of following their deaths -- challenges that could be resolved via a pet trust.

A pet trust is an excellent way for dog and cat parents to designate a caretaker and earmark funds to be specifically used for the care of their pets. Here are a few considerations to keep in mind when making such a trust:

  • Your pet trust should be able to withstand a legal challenge that attempts to invalidate it and takes the money out for other heirs or family members.
  • The instructions for the care of your pet should be specific. For example, you should also include details about the type of food and snacks, the number of times to walk your dog and the number of times to play with your cat per day.
  • A well-drafted pet trust will go into effect the moment you die, while a will could take weeks to engage.
  • Include a regular inspection of your pet by a third-party or the trustee to ensure your pet is well-taken care of.
  • Make sure your pet trust applies if you become incapacitated.

As a final note, pet parents may want to consider making the trustee of the pet trust different from their pet guardians. This way, the trustee can offer some oversight to ensure that the money earmarked for your pet is actually being spent on your pet in accordance with the guidelines.

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