Pet Trusts

Who will care for them when I can’t?


A trust may be created for the care of one or more designated domestic or pet animals alive at the time of creation of the trust. Further, no portion of the principal or income may be converted to the use of the trustee or to any use other than for the benefit of the designated animal or animals. The trust terminates upon the death of the animal named or the last surviving animal named in the trust.

Why would I need to do a Pet Trust?

We’d all like to think that we’ll be around to take care of our pets, but what happens to them if you become incapacitated, or worse, pass away?

What you may need is a set of instructions for the specific care of your pets, such as a favorite food or dietary restrictions, grooming instructions and identification of those who will care for the pet, including veterinarians, groomers, trainers, pet sitters, or other caretakers. In addition, a mechanism should be in place to pay for these services.

There are so many situations where our own family might not be in a position to care for our pets. Family members may already have too many obligations; there may be compatibility issues, allergies, geographic limitations or space restrictions. Some pet owners simply do not have family members who are able or willing to take on the responsibility.

Where do I begin? Things to think about!

When do I create this trust?

  • While you are alive. This is type of Trust is called an “inter-vivos” Trust
  • A Trust can also be created upon your death by including Trust Provisions in your Will. This is called a Testamentary Trust.

How do I fund the trust?

  • If you are creating a Trust now, you can transfer assets to the Trust. This is called “Funding the Trust” and must be done properly. You can also leave instructions in your will to “pour over” assets to the Trust at the time of your passing. By creating the Trust now, you can add provisions if you were to become incapacitated (disabled, Alzheimer’s).
    For example, you would not want an inheritance to be paid to an individual who is on a means-tested benefits program; the increase in assets would be a disqualifying event. A better approach would be to have proceeds from an inheritance or insurance policy go directly to a trust.
  • Some families will purchase an appropriate life insurance policy that will be payable to the Trust. This method can be used to supplement assets already transferred into the Trust while you are still living.

What instructions can I give?

Your desire is for your pets to be treated in the same manner as they are now. This can be very specific if you desire:

  • What to call the pet – by name
  • Medical care, including veterinarian
  • Grooming schedule
  • Exercise
  • Socialization – (off to the Dog park)
  • Food and diet
  • Use of cages
  • Payment to the caregiver
  • How the Trustee is to monitor the caregiver
  • How to handle expenses and reimbursements related to care
  • How to handle the pets final arrangements; burial, cremation, memorial, etc.

What happens to the funds in the Trust when the last pet passes away?


When the last named pet passes, the remaining assets in the Trust will usually pass according to the terms of the Trust. The creator of the Trust has the ability to direct the final distributions of assets, some of which might be:

  • Final disposition of the pet’s remains
  • Named pet caregiver
  • Named trustee of Pet Trust
  • Family members
  • Charities: Pet related, religious, social charities like The Humane Society, Habitat for Humanity or the local Meals on Wheels

To answer your questions, we offer free phone or in-person consultations………we’ll even come to you and meet at your home, office, care facility or our Raleigh office.

Let us know what is best for you. Please contact us today.

Call today to learn more about trust services from Carolina Estate Counsel

Kevin Huston, Elder and VA Accredited Attorney   (919) 741-6565

Rick Messemer, Community Liaison   (919) 656-2959 • rick@carolinaestatecounsel.com