You love your pets, and you’ve been thinking about what will happen to them if you pass away. You hope your family and friends would do the right thing, but you can never be sure. Maybe you’ve heard of families selling off pets or even having them put to sleep in this scenario, and you’re looking for a concrete way to make sure your wishes are respected.

One way to do it is a pet trust. It can specify exactly what you want to be done via the trust agreement, and you can take some stress off of your family. Besides just naming the person to care for the animal, you can:

  • Specify how long the trust will last. Typically, this is just for as long as the animal is alive. Some trusts have maximum caps, though, at 21 years.
  • Leave financial assets for the caretakers. You know that trips to the vet can be expensive, and even just buying food can be frustrating for someone on a fixed budget. Leaving financial assets behind means the pet is cared for and viewed as a positive, not a burden.
  • Tell the new owners what food to give the animal. Maybe you’ve always picked special organic food, and it’s important to you that the same brand be used, despite the cost. The financial assets also help a lot here, but you can specify the exact brand of food you prefer.
  • Set up a schedule for the pet. Maybe it’s a dog who needs to be taken on a walk twice a day, in the morning and at night. You can lay out a sample schedule to be followed when possible.

Essentially, the pet trust is a way to make the transition as easy on your pet and your family as possible. If you’re interested in setting one up, be sure you know exactly what legal steps to take.

Source: ASPCA, “Pet Trust Primer,” accessed Dec. 15, 2017