Legal Blog

The Weekly Scenario: A Pet’s Trust


Question:  Is it possible to establish a trust for my pets?

Answer:  Laws on the subject of pet trusts vary from state to state. Since animals are not permitted to be beneficiaries of a trust, many states had employed other devices such as the creation of an “honorary trust” which could be used to provide for the care of a pet. Such honorary trusts were not enforceable by courts.

In 2000, the Uniform Trust Code added a pet trust provision. Because the Uniform Codes are only recommendations, each state would choose whether or not to adopt any of their provisions. As of 2018, all 50 states and D.C. have adopted some type of provision which allows the creation of a pet trust.

The law has traditionally regarded pets as property (and thus not possessing any rights). In the past, people who wanted to care for a pet had to leave money to a person with instructions to care for their pets with the hope and wish that their intentions would be carried out.

Fortunately for caring pet owners, there have been several important advancements including the ability to create a trust for your pet as a means to protect animals who are left behind.

Pet trusts have a number of key features:

  1. The pet must be alive when you create the trust.
  2. The trust ends at the death of the last pet covered by the trust;
  3. Trust property may generally be used only for the pet’s benefit; and
  4. Any property remaining when the trust ends will generally pass to named individuals or charities.


As always, if you have any questions or would like to learn more, please contact Steve Shane at or 301.575.0313.


Steve Shane Casual | 301.575.0313

Steve Shane provides strategic counseling to clients in need of estate administration, charitable giving and business continuity planning while minimizing estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer tax exposure. He offers legal guidance to clients on asset protection and the proper disposition of assets in accordance with the client’s objectives, while employing tax planning techniques such as the use of irrevocable trusts, life insurance planning, lifetime gifts and charitable trust. He is also experienced with drafting documents for business planning, the incorporation and application for exemption for Private Foundations and the administration of decedents’ estates.





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