If you are a pet lover and you are creating an estate plan, chances are you have wondered what will happen to your furry loved ones if you were to die and how the California laws might affect their care after you are gone. You may have considered bequeathing funds to someone in your will to cover the expenses of caring for your pet. While it is a good idea to designate a person that you trust for this job, if that person passes or is unable to provide care for the animal, your pet may be left without the care you had hoped. A will also does not guarantee that the funds will go expressly toward your pet’s care or mandate the quality of care that is given. If your pet passes earlier rather than later, the person to whom the funds were given to provide the caretaking duties can still keep the money.

Good news: According to Senate Bill No. 685, you can legally create a pet trust in California to outline exactly the type of care you wish for your pet and with whom. With such a trust, you can appoint a trustee who must, by law, follow your express conditions for care. The trustee can be a person, a trust company or even a bank. The money placed in the trust can only be used in regard to your pet’s care and is not simply given over to an individual to use at his or her discretion.

You can appoint a successor in the trust agreement to take over in case the original trustee dies or cannot fulfill the stated duties. You can also name a successor beneficiary to inherit any remaining assets of the trust once your pet has passed. If you wish to have the remaining funds spent in another way or donated, you can instruct the trustee on those specifics, as well. 

This is an educational post only and should not be used in lieu of professional legal advice.