When most people think about estate planning, they think about providing for their human loved ones. But what about your beloved pets? Our pets are with us for only a short period of time, but wouldn't you say the time we do have with them fills your life with joy and happiness? Don't you want to ensure they are taken care of too?
Well, you can! There are numerous ways you can provide for your pet after you're gone. While you can't give money outright to your beloved Biscuit (see Estate of Russell (1968) 69 Cal. 2d 200, 215), you can leave money in trust to benefit your furry friend. What that means is that you would leave assets to be held, administered and distributed in a separate trust by a trustee you designate (e.g., an individual, private professional fiduciary or corporate fiduciary) for the benefit of your pet. With the help of your estate planning attorney, you can set up the terms of your pet's trust so long as the terms are consistent with the statutory framework set out in California Probate Code Section 15212. Depending on the amount of assets in your pet's trust, the trustee may need to account to remainder beneficiaries and upon written request by any nonprofit charitable corporation caring for your animals (see Prob Code Section 15212(e)). You can also decide who will benefit from any remaining trust assets after your pet passes away.
If you don't like the idea of an ongoing trust, or if you simply want to ensure that your animals go to a loving home, you can include a provision in your trust whereby you leave your animals to a specific individual or individuals. With such a provision there will be no question as to who should care for Mr. Furball. After all, our pets live to make us happy--we should do what we can to make sure they live out the remainder of their years in a safe, loving and nurturing environment.
For assistance with securing your pet's future, please contact the Law Office of Lauren Rios.