Pets can be a source of joy throughout our lives and an important part of the family. Understandably many pet owners want to make sure their beloved companions will be cared for if something should happen to them. Here is what you need to know about California estate planning and pets.

Selecting an Owner

When you begin planning for your pet, the first decision you will want to make is who will be his or her caretaker. You want to select someone you believe you can trust to provide the best possible care for your pet. It’s also important that this individual is willing to accept the responsibilities that come with pet ownership. It’s important to consider the life span of your pet. For instance, if you have a parrot which is expected to live 75 more years, you may need to consider directions for its long-term care. Once you have talked with this person and confirmed his or her willingness to care for your pet, you should also identify an alternate individual. That way if something should happen down the road, which prevents your caregiver from fulfilling his or her responsibilities, there will be someone else to take their place. You can designate these individuals in your will or in an applicable trust.

Set up a California Pet Trust

California law provides that a pet owner may create a valid legal trust for the care and maintenance of a pet. As with an ordinary trust, you can add funds which will be designated for specific purposes and you will name a trustee who will be responsible for carrying out the trust terms. The terms can include directives such as where your pet will receive their veterinary care and grooming services, the brand of food they will be served, and even that they have certain toys and be walked a certain number of times per day.

The trust can only apply to live animals, so if a pet were to pass away, the trust would end.  If there is extra money left in the trust, you can include a term which directs the funds to another person or charitable organization. It’s important to note that if there is a great deal of money in the trust, it is possible that a court could decide to reduce the amount or that a family member may challenge your decision to leave so much for your pet’s benefit.

When preparing any estate planning documents, it is important to have the advice of an experienced attorney. At the Law Office of Alice Salvo, we have the experience you need to plan for every aspect of your estate. Schedule a consultation today to explore your options and make informed decisions for your estate. /