Lawyers on Call: Planning for Pets

Partner with Coughlin and Gerhart, Kristen Luce explains including your pets as part of your estate plan.

How can I provide for my pets as part of my estate plan?

Pet owners sometimes need to have some very thoughtful planning done, not only for death of a pet owner, but also for incapacity of a pet owner.

What specific actions should a pet owner consider?

A pet owner should think about what person or entity would provide quality care to their pets, in the event the owner cannot. A pet owner should also think about how that care would be funded. Sometimes pet owners in their Wills would leave their pets (pets are personal property) and a sum of money to a particular entity or person for the care of their pet. Other times, we use more formal arrangements in the form of a pet trust.

What is a pet trust?

A pet trust sets up a sum of money to be used towards the care of an animal or animals, by a trustee, who has an obligation to manage and protect the money. Pet trusts often have a unique feature in that a lot of them also name another party to ensure that the trustee is using the trust fund, properly on the animal. Pets, unlike people, obviously do not have the ability to commence a court action if the trust fund is not being properly managed or used, so this third party has the ability to act in that capacity.


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