Your pet is like a family member to you, but the probate court doesn’t see it that way. Who will take care of your pet should you pass away? California law allows for the creation of pet trusts, which is the best way to ensure that your pets are cared for if anything were to happen to you.
A pet trust is established within the language of your revocable living trust. You determine a caretaker for your pet, how much money you want to set aside for the care of your pet, and who will manage the funds as trustee. The caretaker you name for your pet might be separate from the trustee, but the trustee is required to ensure that the funds are used only as intended for the care of your pet. You may want to name successors in case the original caretaker cannot take care of your pet.
Many people want their pet to be cared for in a certain way or have a pet with special needs. It may simply be important to you that the caretaker knows about your pet’s quirks. You can create a separate list of instructions that are only referenced in the trust without being part of the trust. This will allow you to adjust these instructions without amending the trust.
In case of incapacity
You will also want to ensure that your pet can get immediate care in the event of your incapacity. A wallet card can alert people about your pet if you are ill or injured, and a power of attorney can ensure someone can care for the pet if you are incapacitated.
You may want to discuss provisions for your pet with an attorney to ensure that you have covered all likely possibilities and have a clear plan in place to get someone to care for your pet. You might also want to discuss these plans with family and friends.