Many people begin the estate planning process when they buy their first home or have their first child. However, parents and homeowners are not the only ones who have people dependent on them. If you have a beloved dog, cat, or other pet, New York law allows you to provide for their care and feeding through a trust fund.

What Does a Pet Trust Do?

Dog Wearing a Coat in the SnowA pet trust safeguards funds for the care of a pet (or pets) and appoints a trustee(s) to manage those funds. Unlike those in other states, New York pet trusts are not required to terminate upon the creator’s death, ensuring that pets will be cared for even after one family member passes.

A pet trust can protect any pet or domesticated animal with:

  • A guardian. Owners can name a trustee who will have the authority to use the principal or income of the trust on the pet’s behalf. This individual can also be appointed by the court if no trustee is designated or no chosen trustees are willing or able to serve.
  • Lifetime protection. Pet trusts terminate when no living animal is covered by the trust, or after 21 years, whichever is earlier. Once the trust is terminated, the remaining balance of the trust property will be passed as directed in the trust document. If no instructions are given for the balance, the remaining property shall pass to the estate of the trust maker.
  • Clear instructions. No portion of the principal or income may be converted to the use of the trustee for personal or business purposes. All funds shall be used in accordance with the owner’s instructions, and not put to any use other than for the benefit of the covered animal(s).

Pet trusts offer great peace of mind for owners, but they are not infallible. For example, the court has the authority to reduce the amount of property transferred to a pet trust if the amount greatly exceeds how much it will cost to provide for the pet. At Landskind & Ricaforte Law Group, P.C., our Brooklyn trust attorneys can help you decide whether a pet trust might be a good option for your furry family members. Contact us today through our online form to learn how we can be of assistance.


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