A pet trust is a trust that is created to ensure that a pet is cared for after its owner dies.
There are three types of pet trusts: (1) honorary, (2) traditional, and (3) statutory.
An honorary pet trust involves a conditional bequest of a pet and leaving a sum of money to an individual who is designated to care for the decedent’s pet. However, courts generally hold that these types of trust unenforceable, and therefore, honorary pet trusts should be avoided.
In a traditional or common law pet trust, the will leaves the pet to a caretaker and the trustee is required to make distributions of funds to the caretaker to cover expenses for the pet. Traditional trusts afford the owner great control over the future care of their pet. For example, the trust my specify the type of care the pet will receive, what happens if the caretaker is no longer able to care for the pet, or the disposition of the remains of the pet after it dies.
In a statutory pet trust, the pet is the direct beneficiary of the trust. No human beneficiary is required. The pet is left to the trust and the trustee becomes the owner. A caretaker then provides day-to-day care for the pet.
[Last updated in July of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team]