Want to make sure your pet is cared for after you die? It’s a common wish among Texans and there are several options.

The easiest, most direct way to take care of your pet is to create a pet protection agreement. This is simply a contract between you and another person that spells out how you want them to care for your pet.

But if you want to put a little more meat on the agreement, you can set up a trust that will benefit your pet for as long as your pet is alive.

How much money do you need?

The determining factor in how much money you should leave your pet in a trust is not how much money you have. The determining factor is how long your pet will survive you.

Dogs and cats live anywhere between 10 and 15 years, depending on the breed. Horses live about 25 years. Parrots can live to be 50 years old. Tortoises can live for 125 years (or more). Plan ahead.

Why set up a trust? Because pets are considered property and you can’t leave real estate, money or life insurance to a desk, chair or any other property.

A traditional trust

Here’s how you can take care of your pets:

  • Contact a qualified, experienced attorney to help you set up a trust
  • Name a caregiver to be the trust’s executor
  • Notify your life insurance company to pay benefits upon your death to the trust. You can also split the life insurance benefit so that some goes to the trust while the rest goes to children or loved ones
  • Make specific instructions on the handling of the trust funds – the executor must use the funds to maintain your pet’s health and lifestyle
  • The trust will then activate upon your death

You can also set up a statutory trust. This occurs when you put a direction in your will to leave an amount of money to the care of your pet. Without a trust, the court will appoint a trustee to fulfil your wishes although, unlike a traditional trust, there won’t be any specific instructions on the care of your pet.

Pets can be like members of the family. Even if you can’t bequeath money or property directly to them, you can arrange for their care. Talk to a qualified, experienced attorney to help you set up a trust for your pet.