Providing For Your Pet in Your Estate Plan

GM Law PC discusses how a pet trust can help provide for your pet in your estate plan.

Q: Do I need a pet trust?

Skilled Santa Barbara estate planning attorneys know that a “one-size-fits-all” approach to estate planning would be a disservice to the client. Not only is each person’s situation unique, but their initial estate plan generally needs updating periodically in response to changes in their personal circumstances throughout their lifetime. Such changes may include a marriage or divorce, a birth or death, business relationships, significant changes in wealth, and more.

In addition to a will, many people can benefit from the use of trusts as part of a comprehensive estate plan. Trusts serve many different purposes. Some are used in Medicaid planning to help people meet the restrictive income and assets requirements for qualification, so they can protect their life savings in the event long-term nursing home care becomes necessary. Others used trusts, such as special needs trusts, to provide for disabled children or adults without jeopardizing any government benefits they may be entitled to. 

Some people, especially the wealthy, even incorporate pet trusts into their estate plans. A trust administration attorney can help trustees to understand and fulfill their obligations under the trust.

Why a pet trust?

While not as common as some of the other more popular trusts, pet trusts enable pet owners to set aside funds that the pet’s caretaker can use for the benefit and care of a pet after its owner’s death. The trust funds would cover the pet’s medical care, food, grooming and other expenses that are commonly associated with pet ownership. 

Pet trusts are more important when the pet has a very long life expectancy. While most dogs or cats won’t outlive their owners by that many years if at all, certain parrots and other large birds can live 40, 50, or even longer than 75 years. Some turtles have very long life expectancies as well. 

Putting funds aside to help the person you entrust with your pet to afford to care for it could mean the difference between them accepting the responsibility and providing the best care or declining the honor altogether due to the financial burden. Upon the pet’s death, any remaining funds would be paid out as directed at the time the trust is established. 

Contact our Santa Barbara estate planning attorney today

If you need assistance with an initial estate plan or would like to modify an existing one, the estate planning attorneys at GM Law, PC can help you. Contact us today to schedule a consultation. 

From our offices in Santa Barbara and the Santa Ynez Valley, we help clients throughout California preserve their assets, protect their families, and create a legacy. 

Posted in: Estate Planning