The law regards pets as property and does not allow them to inherit money from owners. Nevertheless, your pets are completely dependent on you for their survival. As a pet owner, you have a responsibility to provide for them in the event that you predecease them or are otherwise unable to care for them yourself.
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, a pet trust allows you to provide for domestic animals even if you are no longer able to care for them yourself.
How does a pet trust work?
A pet trust works much the same way as any other trust. You designate a trustee who is in charge of managing the assets and making payments to the beneficiary. In this case, the beneficiary is the person you have asked to care for your pet(s) in the event of your death or incapacitation.
Once the beneficiary assumes responsibility for the care of the animal(s), he or she receives payments from the trustee according to the conditions you set when you made the trust. You can stipulate that the money is to go toward expenses related to the pets’ care, such as food, toys and veterinary care.
What else does a pet trust do?
A pet trust also allows you to leave instructions regarding the care of your pet. For example, if your pet has to eat a certain type of food because of allergies or sensitivities, you can designate the pet food the animal needs to eat in the trust.
There may be money left over in the trust when the animal eventually dies. If so, you can leave instructions for the donation of the remaining assets, perhaps to an animal shelter or rescue organization.
You can create a pet trust for any type of domestic animal. However, if you have a pet that is unusually expensive to keep, such as a horse, or one with an exceptionally long lifespan, such as a parrot, a pet trust may be of particular benefit.