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Pet Trusts In WA & OR: Caring for Your Pets When You Can No Longer Care for Them

Dog paws with a spot in the form of heart and human hand close up, top view. Conceptual image of friendship, trust, love, the help between the person and a dog

Many of us consider our pets to be another member of the family. For any “pet parent” out there, it is important to be aware of the same types of concerns that people have about any other family member. Namely, what will happen to your pet if something unfortunate should happen to you? How can you ensure that your beloved cat or dog will be well-cared-for if you are incapacitated or killed? With proper planning, you can protect your pet in case the worst should befall you. Read on to learn about pet trusts in Oregon and Washington, and call a knowledgeable Portland and Vancouver estate planning lawyer for help planning for your future in Oregon or Washington State.

What is a Pet Trust?

A pet trust is a legal document that provides for the care and maintenance of a pet in the event of the pet owner’s death or incapacity. The trust document will appoint a person known as the trustee to hold and manage property (generally cash) in trust for the benefit of the pet. The trust will also name a caregiver to manage the care of the pet.

The trustee will periodically distribute funds from the trust to the caregiver to take care of the pet. The trustee is also responsible for monitoring the caregiver’s actions to ensure that they are actually caring for the pet and using the funds for the appropriate purpose. The trust document can set standards to which the caregiver must adhere in caring for the pet, and establish the circumstances under which funds may be distributed from the trust (weekly or monthly, in the event veterinary care is necessary, etc.)

Pet trusts provide an advantage over simply providing for a pet in a will. Enforcing provisions in the will that do not specifically concern the allocation of assets can be difficult. Moreover, a pet may be left without care while the probate process is underway until various provisions in the will can be evaluated. A pet trust is a clear legal mandate for the immediate care of a pet.

Are Pet Trusts Enforceable Under Washington and Oregon Law?

Oregon Revised Statutes section 130.185 specifically addresses pet trusts. The statute states that trusts may be established to provide for the care of one or more pets that are alive during the settlor’s (pet owner’s) lifetime. The section includes several provisions concerning pet trusts, including that the trust will terminate upon the death of the last surviving pet, funds from the trust can be used to reasonably compensate the caregiver, and a person with interest in the pet’s well-being can seek to enforce the trust or remove a person appointed to care for the animal.

Washington law has a similar provision. Chapter 11.118 of the Revised Code of Washington RCW covers animal trusts and includes several separate sections on how pet trusts can be enforced, accounting requirements, how to appoint or remove a trustee, and how courts should construe trust language. Talk to your estate planning attorney to ensure your pet trust is valid and drafted to effectively accommodate your wishes.

Vancouver Attorney John Lutgens is Ready to Help Protect Your Pet’s Future in Oregon or Washington State

For experienced and compassionate legal help planning for your financial future in Portland, Vancouver, or elsewhere throughout Oregon and Washington, contact Vancouver estate planning lawyer John Lutgens for a free consultation at 360-693-2119.

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