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Pet trusts: what are they, and should you consider having one?

On Behalf of | Apr 7, 2023 | Estate Planning, Trusts

In 2011, Massachusetts changed its probate code. Among many of the changes made, the state began allowing people to create a trust for their pet(s). It can, in fact, also be done for farm animals, such as goats and horses.

How to set up a pet trust

Pet owners who wish to set up a trust for their animal should:

Choose someone they trust to serve as trustee and caretaker. Please make sure you speak with them beforehand to ensure they understand the responsibilities of being a pet trustee and caretaker. This person should be someone you know well. Someone you believe will honor your wishes, as they will have the power to enforce the terms of the trust and manage the money you leave in the trust to care for your animal(s).

Division of responsibilities

You can also divide the tasks of trustee and caretaker and have one person be the trustee, and another be the caretaker. This can make the task more manageable for both people. 

Setting up a pet trust can take some time, and you will have to pay administrative costs as well as attorney fees, so make sure you ask yourself these questions before you set up a pet trust:

  1. How old is your pet now, and what is their life expectancy?
  2. How much money do you spend now to care for your animal, and do you have the funds to care for it until its natural death? If your pet is terminally ill, what would you like its caretaker and veterinarian to do? Who should make that decision?
  3. What do you want the trustee to do with the assets in the trust when your pet is no longer living?
  4. Would you like to compensate your pet’s trustee and caretaker? How much and for how long?

These questions are supposed to make you consider the intricacies of creating trust in your pet. However, keep going- it is a standard process nowadays, and attorneys can create pet trusts quickly and efficiently if they have the information they need from you.

Thinking about what happens to your pet after you die is an emotional topic. However, it is imperative to make these decisions now rather than later for your pet’s safety.



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