More pet owners are creating pet trusts that ever before. Unlike you might think, they are not just for the super wealthy.

Pet trusts are created like any other trust. Once you determine the amount of money you wish to leave for the benefit of your pet, you need to decide who will act as the trustee. The trustee will manage the assets in the trust and ensure that the funds are used appropriately for your pet with its new owner.

Commonly, funds in a pet trust pay for feeding, grooming, boarding, veterinary care, end-of-life care and other pet related expenses. You can also leave instructions as to the type of care that you wish your pet to receive. It is the trustee’s responsibility to make sure your wishes are followed.

Commonly, funds in a pet trust pay for feeding, grooming, boarding, end of life care and other pet related expenses. You can also leave instructions as to the appropriate care you wish your pet to receive. It is the trustee’s responsibility to make sure your pet’s new owner follows your wishes.

When does probate litigation occur with pet trusts?

Probate litigation can occur for a variety of reasons. Generally, it occurs when someone disinherits other family members and leaves a large sum of money to a pet. In many states, pet trust laws will reduce the size of the trusts if a court finds them “excessive.”

One of the most famous cases of probate litigation concerning a pet trust was after the death of celebrity, Leona Helmsley, who left over $12 million to her dog but left nothing to her two grandchildren. A probate judge awarded the grandchildren $5 million each and left Helmsley’s dog with $2 million in the trust.

Disputes can also arise if the trust does not stipulate where the remaining funds go after a pet dies. Additionally, there can be disputes between the trustee and your pet’s new owner, depending on how often or how much money the trustee distributes to the new owner.

These disputes can be devastating and can tear families apart. To ensure that your pet trust is set up properly to avoid probate litigation, consult with an experienced attorney to help draft and prepare the appropriate document.