Pet Trusts

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At The Law Office of Paul Black, we help in creating pet trusts to ensure your furry family members are taken care of even when you can’t be there. Contact us to learn more.

Author: Paul Black

Paul’s experience as the son of two parents with big health challenges is what led him to the work he does today and gives him first-hand knowledge of the challenges that many caregivers and family members face. After graduation from GSU Law, Paul was chosen from dozens of applicants nationwide as one of three 2010-2011 Borchard Foundation Law & Aging Fellows. Paul has been named as  a SuperLawyers “Rising Star” in the area of Estate Planning and as a member of Georgia’s “Legal Elite” by Georgia Trend magazine. Published on: July 24, 2023.

What Is a Pet Trust?

What Is a Pet Trust sec

It’s never too early to start planning for your family’s future.

If you have questions, I’m here to help. There is no commitment and we provide free initial 15-minute phone calls. We look forward to meeting you.

A pet trust is a legally enforceable contract that covers the upkeep and care of one or more companion animals in case the owner dies or becomes unable to care for them. With this type of trust, you assign a pet guardian the responsibility of caring for your pet and a trustee to oversee the proper execution of your will and instructions.

Pet trusts can provide pet owners some peace of mind, especially if they fear their pets will be abandoned or not well-cared for. They allow them to leave specific instructions on how their pet animals should be treated and an amount of money to cover their needs. If the caregiver fails to fulfill your wishes, the trustee may replace them. 

Our revocable trust lawyer at The Law Office of Paul Black can help you set up a water-tight pet trust document and advise you throughout your estate planning process.

How to Set Up a Pet Trust in Georgia?

In Georgia, pet trusts are authorized by O.C.G.A. 53-12-28. You can create one within your living trust or set up a separate trust for your pets.

To set up a pet trust, you must draft a written document that includes the following elements. Consulting a lawyer may be needed to make sure your document is comprehensive and legally binding.

1. Animals covered:

Pet trusts can be set up for one or more animals. Make sure to name and describe the animals you wish to be covered under the trust. You can include identifiers such as DNA samples to prevent fraud.

2. Trustee and caregivers:

Name the trustee who will manage the trust and make arrangements for your pet’s good care. You must also name the pet’s primary caregiver, the person who will be in charge of your pet. You can name an alternate caregiver in case your first pick becomes unable to care for your pet. For an added sense of security, you can name an animal rescue group or shelter as a last resort to make sure your pets will always be taken care of.

It’s crucial to discuss with the people you want to designate in your trust in advance and make sure they are informed and on board.

3. Care instructions:

Once you decide on your trustee and your pet’s caretaker, you can list your wishes and instructions. You should be as detailed as possible to guarantee the proper care and treatment of your pet. Instructions can include your pets’ food, sleeping schedules, and medical needs.

4. Trust property and resources:

Most pet trusts dedicate a certain amount of money to the care and welfare of the trust animals. You can also specify how any remaining trust property should be managed or spent in case of your pet’s death.

If you need help drafting your pet or living trust in Georgia, Paul Black from The Law Office of Paul Black will be happy to help.

How Much Money Do I Need to Put Into a Pet Trust?

How much money you should put aside in the trust fund depends on your pet type and needs. Caring for horses is significantly more expensive than caring for goldfish, for example. You may consider the following when deciding how much money is needed for your pet’s care:

  • Your pet’s type

  • Probable lifespan 

  • Lifestyle

  • Health and required medical care

  • Whether the trustee will be compensated for their services

  • Costs to cover a substitute if the animal’s caregiver is on vacation or out of town

You may want to avoid allocating a lot of money or other assets to your pet trust to avoid your heirs and beneficiaries challenging the trust in court. There have been cases in which the courts have reduced the amount to what they deemed appropriate.


How Can I Ensure the Proper Use of Funds From the Pet Trust?

As fiduciaries, trustees must follow the rules you specify in the trust instructions. They are legally obligated to do so once they assume the trustee position. If you worry that your money will be used for other purposes, you may designate a trust protector who will oversee and enforce the terms of the trust.

An experienced estate planning attorney can advise you about ways to prevent fraud and ensure the proper execution of your will.

The Law Office of Paul Black – Elder Law, Estate Planning, and Pet Trusts

It is our experience that many older people become very concerned about what will happen to their pets when they die. The Law Office of Paul Black has established many pet trusts for our clients as part of their more comprehensive estate planning. We have skilled estate planning and elder law practitioners who can guide your estate planning process and help you avoid common problems with trusts.

Contact us today for help with all your estate planning needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

 Is a Pet Trust the Same as a Pet Protection Agreement?

A pet protection agreement (PPA) is a legally binding document between the pet owner and the pet guardian. While similar in purpose, pet trusts and pet protection agreements are not the same. Pet trusts require the designation of a trustee to manage and oversee the trust property by the pet guardian. However, a PPA only requires the guardian’s signature to become legally enforceable.

Which States Allow for Pet Trusts?

All U.S. states now allow for pet trusts, with Minnesota being the last state to pass a pet trusts statute in 2016. Some states have funding restrictions for pet trusts under which the court can diminish or redirect trust assets if it suspects fraud.

Can I Designate a Portion of the Trust Funds for a Pet Charity?

Yes, you can, and this is a common term found in pet animal trusts. Once the pet dies, the surplus money is often given to a charity identified in the trust document.

Is a Pet Trust Valid for the Entire Lifespan of the Pet?

According to O.C.G.A. § 53-12-28, a pet trust is valid until the pet animal’s death. If there’s more than one animal, the trust remains valid until the death of the last surviving animal covered.

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