For many of us, a beloved pet is like a member of the family. It is only natural to desire that the animal that brings so much joy to your life is well cared for after you’re gone.
Trust distributions pay for pet’s care, and animal nonprofit can sue for enforcement
A trust is a versatile estate planning tool. At its most basic level, a trust involves assets that are managed by a trustee with proceeds going to the trust’s beneficiaries. The trustee does not have to be the person who established and funded the trust, and may even be an institution. Trusts can allow you great control over the disposition of your assets, and can also be useful in minimizing estate taxes.
In California, pet trusts were only honorary until 2009. That means that they were not necessarily enforceable in court. This changed after Arnold Schwarzenegger signed SB 685 into law.
Now, properly established pet trusts are fully enforceable in California. Under a typical pet trust, the trustee makes distributions to a caretaker, who in turn ensures that the pet is fed, sheltered and otherwise maintained as specified.
A pet trust shares many of the same features as other types of trusts, but it is also unique in several respects. For example, under the California Probate Code, “interested persons” may generally bring actions in court to compel enforcement of any trust. “Interested persons” generally include beneficiaries of the trust, the heirs of the person who established the trust and anyone else with a claim against the trust or the estate of the person who established the trust.
Well, your pet may benefit from your pet trust, but your animal friend isn’t likely to speak up to a judge if he or she is not getting the proper care under the terms of the trust. For that reason, California law establishes that for pet trusts “any nonprofit charitable organization that has as its principle activity the care of animals may petition the court regarding the trust.” Organizations like the Humane Society and local animal shelters, for instance, could step in to guarantee enforcement of a pet trust.
Get a pet trust and other estate planning documents in place: Call a California attorney
You have earned and retained your money over your lifetime, and it is important to ensure it goes to the things you love after you are gone. Estate planning of all kinds is important, but a pet trust can be especially critical if you do not have anyone in your life who would step forward to care for your pet if you died without a trust in place.
A California estate planning attorney can help you establish a pet trust and take care of all your other estate planning needs. Get in touch with an estate planning attorney today – you never know when it could be too late.