Learn more about testamentary pet trusts
Creating a last will and testament with a pet trust is a legal estate planning technique you may use to designate proper care and funds for your pet after you die.
A testamentary pet trust may also be called any of the following names:
Who should use this form?
- Animal care trust
- Pet trust
- Pet care trust
- Pet caregiver trust
A pet owner who wants to include a section in their last will and testament to leave money in trust for the care of their pet and designate specifically how that money will be used can create a testamentary pet trust.
What to include in a testamentary pet trust
A testamentary pet trust is created through adding a special section to a last will and testament. The section establishing the trust will state the purpose of creating the trust, and designate the trustee, and the amount and source of money to fund the trust. There will also be a section in the will giving details and instructions around how the trust is to be managed and administered. This section will include a detailed description of the pet(s), designate the beneficiary of the trust (usually the person who has agreed to be the caregiver), describe how the animals should be cared for, and any other special provisions.
Once you have completed your last will and testament with a pet trust, you’ll have to sign and date it. You’ll need to do this in front of 2 witnesses who can attest that you were of sound mind. These witnesses must also sign and date your last will and testament. Different states have different restrictions on who can witness a last will and testament, so make sure you comply with these.
In addition, some states require last will and testaments to be notarized. But even if it's not a legal requirement, getting your will notarized can make it more credible if anyone challenges the will in court.
Store your completed last will and testament in a safe place, such as a home safe or a safe deposit box, and make sure some trusted people (such as your spouse, children, and/or estate planning lawyer) know where to find it. You may also want to make copies for these people.
Trusts can be complicated. You may wish to have an attorney review your will and testamentary pet trust to ensure that the terms are in alignment with your wishes, and that your pet trust will be enforceable in court.