Can I Include My Pets In My Estate Plan?

dog and cat by a laptop

If something were to happen to you tomorrow, who would take care of your pets? This is one of the many aspects of estate planning that most individuals have not considered until they have to start thinking about the future. If you would like your pet to receive care and companionship once you are no longer able to provide it, a well-crafted Living Trust can address these desires.

Setting up a Living Trust for your pet would ensure the following:

  • A responsible individual designated by you will take ownership of the pet
  • Ability set aside a portion of money only to be used for your pet’s future expenses

At one time, pet trusts in California were considered “honorary” and not legally enforced. However, in January 2009, Senate Bill (SB) 685 took effect, providing a greater amount of protection both to the transferor as well the pet(s). The bill ensures proper care for all animals under an estate plan and raised the level of scrutiny to protect them from neglect and misuse of any money set aside for their expenses.

Section 15212 of the California Probate Code now includes language to maximize the carrying-out of the owner’s intentions, including the following:

“The intended use of the principal or income may be enforced by a person designated for that purpose in the trust instrument…” [15212 (c)] and thus a trust enforcer.

“If a trustee is not designated… a court shall name a trustee. A court may order the transfer of the trust property to a court-appointed trustee, if it is required to ensure that the intended use is carried out…” [15212 (d)],

“Any beneficiary, any person designated by the trust…or any nonprofit charitable corporation that has at its principal activity the care of animals may, upon reasonable request, inspect the animal, the premises where the animal is maintained, or the books and records of the trust.” [15212 (f)]

Start Planning on Behalf of Your Loved Ones

Here at Brayton Purcell, our attorneys and staff believe in ensuring the safety and well-being of all animals. Encouraging our clients to include their pets in the estate planning process is just one of the many ways we are dedicated to this belief. Contact our experienced attorney today to start safeguarding a future for your loved ones. We handle all aspects of estate planning, including those related to animals.