Many clients who seek out estate planning in Orange County have concerns when it comes to caring for their pets. After all, our pets rely on us for everything, although we all know that we gain so much in return. When engaging in estate planning with an attorney, you likely want to ensure that your steadfast companion is well cared for after your passing.

One approach is to actually set up a Pet Trust. This type of trust is created here in Orange County specifically to take care of your special companion animal or animals when you are no longer able to do so. When setting up a pet trust, your attorney will ask you to make a few considerations:

  • Naming a trustee who will manage the funds.
  • Choosing a caretaker who will meet your pet’s needs. This may be the same person or someone other than the trustee.
  • Picking a nonprofit organization that will care for your pet if the caretaker is unable to do so.
  • Outlining specific instructions on how your pet is to be cared for.

While it may seem appropriate to simply provide for your pet in your will, most estate planning lawyers will encourage you to set up a separate trust. This is because the money earmarked for your pet’s care could get tied up in probate. At the very least, it can take weeks for funds to become available. Setting up a Pet Trust or making it part of your Living Trust helps ensure that the money will be there right away.

You may also want to consider including instructions for pets in your Durable Power of Attorney. This allows for a designated person to take over the care of your pet if you should become unable to do so for reasons other than your own death. If it is reasonable, you can even arrange for this person to bring your pet to visit you while you are recuperating or receiving other care.

Pets in Orange County need to have an appropriate amount allocated for their ongoing care. In addition to providing for food and other necessities, the Pet Trust should also include funds that can be used for veterinary fees. Additionally, you may wish to allot a certain amount to the caregiver in return for looking after Fido or Fluffy. A few thousand dollars is usually enough to cover the expenses most small pets will incur.

To create a plan for your pet, simply let your Orange County wills and trust lawyer know that it is important to you. He or she will help you set up a Pet Trust so that you have the comfort of knowing you will be able to continue to provide for the animal or animals that gave so much of their love and comfort to you.