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Pet Trusts: What Are They and Should I Consider One?

Are you worried about what would happen to your beloved pet(s) if you unexpectedly pass away? Are you worried about your chosen caretaker having sufficient funds to provide for your pet's care throughout the remainder of your pet's life? If your answer is "yes," then there is a tool available to you - a Pet Trust.


Like a Trust for a minor or irresponsible beneficiary, you can set up a trust for the benefit of your pet. You can name primary and contingent caregivers for your pet and set aside funds specifically for the care and well-being of your pet. The only requirement in Washington State is that your pet must be an animal with a vertebrae. If you have a dog, a cat, a bird, a pig, a snake, a horse, or a reptile, you can set up a trust for its benefit. But if you have a pet tarantula or hermit crab, you, and they, are out of luck. 


There are several considerations when thinking about Pet Trusts:

  • You should think about the potential life expectancy of your pet and its potential care expenses when trying to determine how much money to put into the trust.

  • When thinking about caregivers for your pet, you should try to name a couple of alternate caregivers, in case your primary caregiver is unable or unwilling to care for your beloved pet. Also, it is a good idea for your potential caregiver to consider if his or her housing situation allows for pets or even certain breeds of animals. Some housing facilities have pet restrictions or even breed restrictions.

  • When thinking about how much money is to be used for your pet's care or when the trust terminates, care must be taken when drafting the document. For example, stating that the trust will pay $2,000 per month to the caregiver for the life of my cat Yoyo Meow could result in "Yoyo Meow" living to a grand old age of 40 (with "Yoyo Meow" changing from a Chartreux to a Siamese to a Manx throughout the years). Or, stating that upon the death of my cat, Copurrnicus, Copurrnicus' caregiver would receive the remainder of the trust could result in Copurrnicus' severely reduced lifespan.


A Pet Trust is an excellent tool when you want to provide for your pet's care if your pet survives you, and at the same time exert some control over how the funds are to be used and what happens to the remaining funds when your pet passes away. 


If you want to learn more about Pet Trusts or if you want to create a Pet Trust, please call Rehberg Law Group at 206.246.8772 to schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys.

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