Do Pet Trusts Create an Essential Method of Caring for Pets After Passing?

Ultimately, pets are not able to speak. Every year, thousands of pets are simply put to sleep because their owners are either disabled or dead without provisions in their will or their trust.

If the owner dies without specifically carving out details for his animals, the animals will be taken to the shelter and euthanized.

Does this Occur When Someone Dies and Makes No Provision for a Pet?

Yes. Unless someone steps up to say he’ll take care of the pet, the animal will be taken to the shelter and euthanized. If nobody will take care of the pet, the pet will die.

Have You Seen a Situation During Which Relatives Say They Prefer the Pet? Alternately, Have you Seen a Situation During Which the Pet Gets More of the Estate and The Relatives Try to Take it Away?


Several years ago, a famous case involving this situation occurred. Leona Helmsley left $25 million to her dog, and she didn’t have a pet trust. She just named the dog as the beneficiary to her estate.

This is, as you know, illegal. As such, it was a very famous case.

What Happened in That Case?

The family members objected, and they went to court. The court modified the bequest to the animal, and they changed it.

The dog had quite a bit of money for its benefit. However, it wasn’t the total $25 million.

Do Animals Have No Sense of Right to Counsel or No Voice to Speak for Them?

Animals are property. Therefore, they have no rights.

You cannot be cruel to an animal. However, a dog doesn’t have any rights of inheritance.

What Are the Common Pets Who Receive Trusts?

Pet trusts are especially important for birds. Birds live a long time. It’s not unusual, for example, for a parrot lives to be 100 or 200 years old. Therefore, the parrots will live much longer than their owners.

However, dogs and cats are the most typical pets with trusts. I’ve done pet trusts for horses, as well.

What Happens if a Pet Outlives its Estate Money?

This is a possibility. In a pet trust deed, we address this issue by saying: “If the funds aren’t available anymore, then the caregiver can either keep the pet and pay for it out of his pocket or arrange for the adoption of the pet by another.”

How Do People React if You Bring Up the Idea of a Pet Trust? Do They Think it’s Just for the Rich?

Most people think it’s a great idea. Everybody understands that if he has a pet, he must do something for the pet after he’s gone.

Typically, a pet trust doesn’t need to be a lot of money. Usually, we look at the type and the age of the pet to try to assess the most reasonable amount necessary for the pet’s potential lifespan.

If I have a client with a 10-year old Chihuahua, he doesn’t need to set aside $100,000 for the Chihuahua’s care. This amount is probably $10,000 or $15,000, at the most.

Therefore, you must simply utilize your own judgment. The client assists, generally, because he knows how much the food and the vet bills cost. We try to approach the amount on a yearly basis.

What is the Typical Amount People Must Set-Aside Per Year for a Pet?

The general rule of thumb is about $1,000 a year per pet.

For more information on Different Aspects of Pet Trusts, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you’re seeking by calling (949) 660-0007 today.

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