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What is a Pet Trust?

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Profile of woman sitting in lounge with dog. [Dougal Waters]/[Digital Vision]/Getty Images
Definition:

A pet trust is a legal arrangement in which the grantor places assets in the care of the trustee for the benefit of the beneficiary, where the beneficiary is a companion animal.

In plain English, pet trusts are usually created in a will so that part of the estate can go towards the care of the person’s pets after the death of that person. The grantor is the person whose will creates the trust. The trustee is the person who manages the assets in the trust, and the beneficiary is the pet(s). The trustee may or not be the same person who is the caregiver for the animals. If the trustee is not the same person, the trustee will distribute the assets of the trust to the caregiver as necessary for the care of the animals. The value of the assets cannot be excessive or a court may modify the trust.

Most states have adopted laws that explicitly allow pet trusts. Check this list to see if your state has such legislation. Even if your state does not specifically have a law on pet trusts, there may be other ways of providing for your animals in your will.

The information on this website is not legal advice and is not a substitute for legal advice. For legal advice, please consult an attorney.

Examples:
Leona Helmsley's will put $12 million into a pet trust for the care of her dog, but a court reduced that amount to $2 million.
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