Pet Trusts

How you can provide for your animal friends after you’re gone.


Many of us have pets that are a very important part of our lives. We are their sole source of food, shelter and care. In return they give us companionship and comfort.

Our 8 year old Boarder Collie/Heeler mix has been voted ‘favorite family member’ for 8 years in a row. We have had him since he was a pup and the thought of him not being properly cared for breaks my heart. But what can be done for our animals after we are gone?

Washington State specifically allows for Pet Trusts. A Pet Trust designates specific animals or animals you own in the future and who survive you, to be cared for in the manner you specifically prescribe. For example, Claude and Mary have three cats and two dogs. Both Claude and Mary are not in very good health and they worry about what will happen to their animals when they die.

What should Claude and Mary do? They should contact an estate planning attorney that is familiar with drafting Pet Trusts and make an appointment. At our law firm, we give free consultations where Claude and Mary can work with an attorney to determine if a Pet Trust is right for them.

Should they decide that they want their animals to be cared for through a Pet Trust after they die, they will be able to dictate the terms of that trust. For example, they may choose to have a relative, veterinarian or friend care for the animals. They may wish for the animals to remain in their current home. The trust will state what expenses are covered. These expenses may include food, shelter, veterinary care or specific needs of an animal.

One of the most famous Pet Trusts is the one established by Ernest Hemingway for his Polydactyl (six toed) cats. Currently 40-50 of these cats roam the Hemingway Home and Museum and are cared for according to the terms of a Pet Trust created by Hemingway for his beloved cats. By placing the care of the cats in trust, they are free to roam the Hemingway home and live a life of kitty leisure. (See

The Pet Trust created by Claude and Mary may provide for animals that, unlike Hemingway’s animals, are not free roaming and breeding. Therefore, provisions need to be made for what will happen to the remaining trust funds once the final pet is no longer alive. The Pet Trust and all of its provisions can be drafted inside of Claude and Mary’s will. That way the trust will only be ‘activated’ if the named or future pets survive Claude and Mary.

As with any estate planning, the sooner you speak with an attorney and begin the process, the better. An experienced estate planning attorney will give you the information you need to consider a Pet Trust as well as give you the tools to guide you through each consideration, resulting in the Pet Trust provisions that best provides for your pet and gives you the peace of mind that you deserve.

Call today to schedule your no obligation consultation. We are conveniently located in the Spokane Valley and look forward to working with you! (509) 928-4100

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