Many people worry about what will happen to their pets after they die. You cannot leave money directly to your pet as a beneficiary. You can leave money outright to a person for the benefit of the pet, but there is another solution. You can create a trust to provide funding for pets’ maintenance and specific instructions for the care of pets.
Leaving funds outright to a person to care for a pet involve a specific gift of the pet itself, and a specific dollar amount to the person designated to care for the pet, sometimes along with specific instructions on such care. Specific instructions, such as stating you want the dog walked a certain number of times a week are not enforceable because the person has the money already. Even if you truly trust the person, what happens if the person dies, becomes incapacitated or for some other reason can no longer take care of the pet? If you really want to be sure that the pet is taken care of and that the money benefits the pet, consider a pet trust.
With trust provisions, which can be inside a will or revocable trust, a caretaker is named to physically care for the pet and a trustee is named to manage the money for the benefit of the pet. The trustee will allocate funds to the caretaker if the caretaker follows the terms of the trust. The trust can provide specific instructions for diet, exercise, health care needs, food, toys, veterinary care, travel, treats, recreational activities, pet-sitting and any other activities. If the caretaker does not take care of the pet for whatever reason, the Trustee can find a substitute, and there is still money available. The trust terminates on the death of the pet, or when the last pet dies. Any remaining funds can be distributed to alternate beneficiaries.
If you want to establish a trust for your pet, you should consult an estate planning attorney.