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Pet Trusts: An Opportunity To Leave Your Pets In Good Hands

Estate planning allows you to create a strategy for managing your assets, both during your lifetime and after you pass away. This includes determining what will happen to your real property, as well as your investments and other financial accounts. It can also cover more than that if you have pets.

A pet trust is a legal arrangement that specifies how your animal companions will be cared for and taken care of financially when you pass away, or if you become seriously ill or disabled and can no longer take care of them yourself.

At the law office of Paul V. L. Campo Attorney At Law, we understand how pet trusts work and what their benefits are. We can help you decide whether you need to include one in your overall estate plan.

What Does a Pet Trust Cover?

When you set up a trust, you as the trustor instruct the trustee exactly how you want any assets in your trust to be administered for yourself if incapacitated, and then distributed to the trust’s named beneficiaries after your death. A pet trust operates similarly.

When you decide to create the pet trust, you start by naming a caregiver/custodian for your pet. The custodian receives cash or other assets from your trustee for the benefit of your pet. Funds held in the trust are used to pay for the pet’s care and related expenses. You can also use a pet trust to specify the end of life care for a pet and to provide any burial or cremation arrangements once your pet passes away.

Establishing a Pet Trust

Creating a pet trust is similar to creating any other type of trust. At the law office of Paul V. L. Campo Attorney At Law, we draft the trust document itself. You will need to identify the person you want to serve as the custodian, and any successor custodians if you’re worried about your pet outliving them.

When actually structuring the pet trust, there are some specific points to consider, such as the following:

  • Your pet’s current standard of living and care
  • The level of care you expect your pet’s new caregiver to offer
  • Who should act as caregiver, and as successor caregivers
  • How often the caregiver should report on your pet’s status to the trustee of your trust
  • Your pet’s life expectancy
  • The likelihood of your pet developing any serious health issues
  • The amount you estimate your pet’s caregiver will need to manage pet-related expenses
  • What will happen to any remaining money in the trust once your pet passes away

That last one is important if you don’t want any leftover funds to go to waste. You can have the money divided among the beneficiaries of your trust, or donate it to charity. You should also think about when the pet trust will take effect. You may not anticipate becoming permanently incapacitated, but it may be wise to have your pet trust plan for that possibility.

All trusts are complex legal documents that require a solid understanding of California law. An improperly-formed pet trust may have no legal effect, leaving your pet to be distributed as property under your trust. At the law office of Paul V. L. Campo Attorney At Law, we know that when you provide for a beloved pet, your pet trust will withstand legal challenges.

Contact our office today to schedule a free 30-minute consultation. We look forward to helping you craft a plan that protects what you hold dear — including your four-legged, winged or finned friends.



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