San Fernando Valley Pet Trust Lawyer
Los Angeles Pet Trust Attorney / Burbank Pet Trust Attorney
“Failing to plan is planning to FAIL.” - Ben Franklin
"What will happen to my pet if I die
or become incapacitated?
LA LAW Estate Planning Attorneys are animal lovers and understand the importance of comprehensive planning for all of the loved ones in your life. Many feel that the pets in their life are part of their family. We make sure that you have peace of mind that your pets will be taken care of when you are gone!"
In the United States, there are 4 to 5 million abandoned and orphaned pets euthanized each year. More than 500,000 of those pets euthanized in the U.S. are because owners die or become incapacitated and did not set up a plan for their care. LA LAW Pet Trust Attorney’s want to help you protect your human and non-human loved ones in your estate planning!
Why Do I Need a Pet Trust?
If you are a pet owner and worry about your orphaned pets(s) when you are no longer here, a Pet Trust may give you piece of mind that they will be cared for…even if you’re no longer able to care for them.
When you consider setting up a trust for your dog, cat, horse or other non-human family member, better known as you pet, you may wonder if you are being too eccentric. Remember Leona Helmsley’s trust leaving $12 million to her pet Maltese named Trouble? To her this dog was an important part of her life and she had the money to provide for him the way she wanted. You too can provide for your pet(s). You don’t have to be rich and eccentric to set up a Pet Trust for your precious companion(s). Pet Trusts are generally set up by caring individuals who want to ensure that their “non-human family member(s)” are provided for in the event of their own death or incapacity.
In 2009, with the passage of Probate Code 15212, the California State Legislature provided a legal way for people to care for their pets, after their death. This law allows you to set up a trust that continues for the life of your pet(s). The assets in this trust can only be used for the benefit of your pet(s). A pet trust does not need not to be a stand alone independent trust. It can be set up as a section in your living trust that defines your wishes for your entire estate.
The First Step in Planning for the Care of Your Pets
First, you need to determine how much money should be set aside from your final estate for your pet’s future care. Leona Helmsley left $12 million to her dog, however, your pet(s) probably do not an annual budget of $8,000 for grooming AND $100,000 a year for security!
To estimate the budget for your pet’s needs, look at the current annual expenses for your pet’s food, grooming, medical care, and other needs and then multiply that by your pet’s likely remaining lifespan. You may want add to this final amount payment to the Pet Caretaker for honoring your wishes by providing the love and attention and a happy home for your orphaned pet(s).
Once you decide you want to establish a trust for your animals, you need to identify a trusted person that is willing to be the person responsibility for their care upon your death or incapacity, named as the Pet Caretaker. This person must be willing and able to provide the love and attention your pet deserves. Pet Trusts are called “honorary trusts”, which means, this person has NO legal obligation to care for your pet. However, if you choose the Pet Caretaker carefully, you will know that this person has a moral obligation to honor your wishes. You must define your pet’s health needs, routine and care for your Successor Caretaker. This information will be referenced in the Pet Trust, or Living Trust.
LA LAW Pet Trust Attorneys recommend having another person that will be responsible for managing the trust assets. This person will be named as the Trustee for your Pet Trust. In this role, the Trustee will manage the assets of the trust and another person with responsibility is to care for the pet. This allows for a check and balance in the care of pets and the administration of the trust assets.
An additional check and balance for your pet trust is the requirement that pet trusts with more than $40,000 of assets must give a annual accounting to the beneficiaries that will inherit the assets upon your pet's death. This provides an incentive to oversee that the funds are being well-managed for the care of the pet(s)as the balance will ultimately be their inheritance.
I Do Not Have a Pet Caretaker... What Do I Do Now?
If You Do Not Have a Trusted Person to be Your Pet's Caretaker, your Pet Trust can give the authority to the Trustee or your personal representative to oversee the caring adoption to a third party. Or Your Pet Trust can appoint a professional Fiduciary or charity involved with caring for pets to oversee the care and adoption. This can include making assets available to pay the person adopting your pet(s) a specified sum of money for care in the new home. The trustee can monitor the quality of your pet’s care. If you set up a continuing trust, you can direct the trustee to pay the new owner on an ongoing basis for routine care and maintenance. Any assets remaining after the pet’s death can then be distributed either to the caretaker or to your other beneficiaries.
Your Pet Trust can identify an Animal Rescue Organization (maybe dealing with a specific breed or type of animal) that will care for your pet(s) and arrange for a qualified adoption after your death or incapacity. LA LAW Pet Trust Attorneys can help you decide which of these types of organizations will be the best for your pet(s). Your trust can make a contribution for the cost of the pet’s boarding and care as well as additional funds to the ongoing organization’s operation
After a thorough review of the best strategies and most cost effective process for your Pet Trust Planning and our legal fees for the scope of work, we will structure a legal plan to protect your human and non human.
Our Law Office is located in Southern California; however, we serve many clients throughout the state and love an occasional road trip to help all of our clients, their family and friends.
Please contact our office for a free initial consultation with Joseph McHugh, a California Elder Law Attorney. Or you may wish to call our office or check our web site for the date of our next free public class or workshop to learn more about elder law and the legal ways you can stay in control of your assets and your life!
Take advantage of a free phone consultation or appointment for a free 30 minute consultation to review your individual situation and determine if you would benefit from our experience and legal services. Call us at:
Local Phone: (818) 241-4238 or
Toll Free Phone: (877) 537-8283