Types of Trusts for Your Pets

July 22nd, 2022


As you are making your Will or Living Trusts you think of all your loved ones that should be included but often overlook one very important family member—your pets. Did you know you can have Pet Trusts? Pets provide friendship, loyalty and comfort, but are also dependent on us to take care of them. Just as you would plan for children in the event of death or disability, you can plan for the care of dogs, cats, and other pets during your estate planning process.

In your estate plan, you can create a trusts for your pet that covers the cost of their care such as their food, veterinary care and grooming. It is important when creating such a trust that you hire a professional attorney. It is easy to make mistakes when attempting to use a do-it-yourself site and a D-I-Y trusts may not be enforceable. A trust should designate a beneficiary who will be responsible for your pet and can enforce the terms of the trust. The trust also needs to include a provision that states what will happen to the remaining assets once the pet passes away.

Testamentary Pet Trusts

In Texas, pet owners may create a testamentary pet trust to care for a pet that outlives its owner. This type of trust is created in the testator’s will, and only comes into being if the testator dies with living pets. If the testator does not have living pets at death, the trust does not come into being.

A testamentary pet trust will identify the caregiver and a successor caregiver for any surviving pets. In addition, the testamentary pet trust will specify the amount of money to incorporate in the trust, and whether an independent trustee will be appointed to oversee trust distributions.  This type of pet trust ends upon the death of the last surviving pet for which the trust was created. The trust terms will determine how remaining trust assets are distributed. Clients often gift the residue to the pet’s caretaker, but it is also possible to designate other beneficiaries or even a charitable recipient.

Revocable Living Trust

For clients creating a revocable living trust as part of their estate plan, the living trust itself (rather than the will) can incorporate terms to provide long term care for surviving pets. Living trusts go into effect immediately and thus will be active when you die or become disabled. This prevents a delay between your passing and the property being available for your pet’s care. A testamentary trust does not take effect until your death and the will is declared valid by a court. A testamentary trust also does not provide care for a pet in the event of the owner’s incapacity.

In most other regards, a living trust functions the same as a testamentary trust in caring for your pets. You can determine what funds will be set aside, who will care for your pet and what happens to leftover funds if your pet passes before the trust assets have been used.   In addition, you may also name a trustee that will administer the trust and make sure the funding and property listed in the trust is managed properly for the benefit of your pet. It is a good idea to include alternative caregivers and trustees.

How to Get Started

The Heights Law Group is here to help you with your estate planning needs. If you are ready to get started or have questions about an estate plan you have already created, please Contact us or Call us today at 832-810-3776 and find out how we can help.

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