According to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association, nearly 2.43 million pets were insured in North America by the end of 2018. It’s clear that our pets are precious to us, and that we are already making important financial planning decisions to ensure their long-term care. But because it’s a tough subject to think about, we often don’t plan for what would happen to our pets if we were no longer able to take care of them.
Thankfully, California law permits state residents to create Animal Care Trusts. These trusts are fantastic tools that allow pet owners to leave specific instructions and financial support to care for their beloved pets in their absence.
What is an Animal Care Trust?
An Animal Care Trust allows you to set specific standards of care for your pet as terms of the trust, so that the Caregiver can provide a similar quality of life to the one that your pet enjoyed in your home. You can also designate individuals to check up on your pet periodically, to make sure that your money is being properly spent and your pet is getting the love and attention he or she deserves.
- A trust is a legal entity that you create to hold your assets. It includes specific instructions on how to distribute those assets after your death.
- You will choose a trustee to manage the money in the trust. This person will make sure that the money is being distributed to care for your pet according to your wishes.
- You will also choose a caregiver, who will take custody of your pet and care for him or her on an everyday basis.
Do I need an Animal Care Trust?
Many people assume that if they were no longer able to care for their pets, a loved one or close friend would step up and take in the animal. Unfortunately, life’s unexpected roadblocks often prevent this natural transition and land the animals in shelters.
It’s impossible to plan for every contingency, but your pet is much more likely to find a future home you would be happy with if you designate a caregiver, provide specific instructions and financial support through an Animal Care Trust.
- What if your relative or friend has a future partner or child who is allergic to animals? Or just doesn’t like them?
- What if that person is living in a development with breed-specific or quantity limitations which exclude your pets?
- What if he or she has pets in their family, and the animals just can’t play nicely together?
How much does an Animal Care Trust cost?
The founding attorney of LifeLadder Estate Planning is an animal lover and is happy to offer a Pet Trust as a complimentary addition to any comprehensive estate plan package.
Do you want to start planning your pet's future day? Get started by downloading our Pet Trust Worksheet.