As any pet owner can attest, the continued care and well-being of a beloved pet is always a priority. This is no different after death, and pet owners who don’t take precautions are placing their beloved companions at risk. Ask yourself this: where will you pet go, and will the level of care that he/she receives match the one of the previous home?
Perhaps more importantly, will your pet even have a chance? After all, the state euthanizes over half a million unclaimed pets every year. If you haven’t taken the time to answer these questions, there is no time like the present to establish a pet trust and ensure that your furry companion is always fed, housed, and cared for, no matter the circumstances.
Pet Trust Types in California
According to the California Probate Code § 15212, a pet trust is a legal entity that allows you to establish how you want your pets to be taken care of in the case of your death or disability. Without a pet trust in place, there is no legal process or mechanism that automatically assigns a caretaker. This is why so many pets in California end up in shelters after their original caretaker passes away or is no longer able to care for them. This process is the reason that so many unclaimed pets face being euthanized in California.
Pet trusts fall into three primary categories, each catered to different situations:
- A statutory pet trust ensures that your pet is taken care of via a designated third party, someone authorized to use trust funds for the continued care of your pet.
- An honorary trust also sets up funds to be used in the care of a pet, though is for the most part unenforceable as it does not assign a specific beneficiary and is not designed with pets in mind.
- A traditional legal trust designs the caretaker as the beneficiary and can include a trustee to enforce the outlined terms, making it the most effective type of pet trust in California.
Along similar lines, while a will does allow for provisions that could include details on any pets, there is one issue with this. California sees domestic animals as property, which means that lengthy probate and waiting periods could become an issue. In contrast, a revocable living trust that details specific provisions for a pet trust kicks in automatically, and overall allows for more detailed and specific instructions regarding your pet’s future.
Contact a California Pet Trust Attorney
To learn more, or to speak to a knowledgeable pet trust attorney in California, remember that we at Sexton Estate Planning are here to help. Count on our 22 years of experience and committed, compassionate approach as we explore your options on all matters relating to estate planning and pet trusts in California.
Call us today to learn more about how incredibly proud pet owner and seasoned estate planning attorney Robin Boren-Coleman Sexton can help.