Pet Trusts: Ensuring the Well-being of Your Furry Family Members After You're Gone

February 19, 2024
Erin Calpin, Esq.

Pet Trusts have emerged as a crucial instrument for pet owners seeking to ensure the continued welfare of their beloved animal companions after passing or in the event of incapacitation. These legal entities function as a safeguard, meticulously outlining care instructions, allocating funds, and appointing a dedicated trustee to oversee the wellbeing of pets. Tailored to address the unique needs of each pet, these trusts stand as a testament to the deep bond between humans and their pets, providing peace of mind to owners by ensuring that their furry family members will continue to receive love, care, and attention in accordance with their specific wishes. As more individuals recognize pets as integral members of their families, Pet Trusts are becoming an essential component of responsible pet ownership and thoughtful estate planning.

What is a Pet Trust?

A Pet Trust is a legal arrangement providing for the care and maintenance of one or more companion animals in the event of the owner's disability or death. It is similar to a trust for a person and is used to ensure that the pet will be taken care of in accordance with the owner's wishes. Key aspects of a Pet Trust include:

1. Settlor/Grantor: The person who creates the trust and whose pets are to be cared for.

2. Trustee: The individual or organization appointed to manage the trust's assets and ensure that the pet receives proper care.

3. Beneficiary: In this case, the beneficiary is the pet or pets. The trust is established for their benefit.

4. Care Instructions: Specific instructions are usually provided regarding the pet's care, diet, medical treatment, and other needs.

5. Funding: The trust must be funded with sufficient assets to cover the expenses related to the pet's care, including food, veterinary care, and other related expenses.

6. Duration: The trust typically remains in effect for the lifetime of the pet or until the trust funds are exhausted.

7. Remainder Beneficiary: Any remaining funds after the pet's death are usually given to a designated remainder beneficiary, which could be a person or a charity.

Pet Trusts are a way for pet owners to ensure that their beloved animals will continue to receive love and care even when the owners are no longer able to provide it themselves. The specific laws and requirements for setting up a Pet Trust can vary by jurisdiction, so it's important to consult with a legal professional experienced in this area.

Can a Member of My Family Revoke a Pet Trust After My Death?

Generally, a Pet Trust, once established and properly executed, cannot be arbitrarily revoked or altered by family members after the death of the Settlor (the person who created the trust). Here are some key points to consider:

1. Irrevocability: Many Pet Trusts are designed to be irrevocable, which means once they are created and funded, the terms cannot be changed, including by family members. This ensures the care and protection of the pets as intended by the Settlor.

2. Legal Protection: Pet Trusts are legal entities and are subject to the laws of the jurisdiction where they are established. These laws typically protect the trust from being revoked or altered by others after the Settlor's death.

3. Trustee's Role: The Trustee appointed in the Pet Trust has the responsibility to administer the trust according to its terms. Family members do not have the authority to override the Trustee's management unless they can prove to a court that the Trustee is acting improperly.

4. Court Intervention: If family members believe the Pet Trust is invalid, was created under duress, or the Settlor lacked mental capacity, they may challenge the trust in court. However, successfully revoking a trust requires substantial legal grounds to do so.

5. Specific Terms of the Trust: The ability to alter or revoke a Pet Trust also depends on the specific terms and conditions set forth in the trust document. Some trusts may allow for certain modifications under specific circumstances.

6. Consulting Legal Professionals: It’s important for individuals creating a Pet Trust to work with an attorney who can help design the trust to reflect a pet owner’s wishes and to ensure that the trust complies with relevant laws.

7. Communication with Family: To minimize disputes, it's often helpful for the Settlor to communicate his intentions and the details of the Pet Trust to family members to ensure everyone understands and respects the Settlor’s wishes regarding the pets' care.

It’s essential to consult with legal professionals knowledgeable in estate planning and Pet Trusts to ensure that your wishes for your pets' care are clearly articulated and legally protected.


No items found.

Getting in touch

* indicates required

Want to know more about creating an estate plan or the probate process?

You can change your mind at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link in the footer of any email you receive from us, or by contacting us at We will treat your information with respect. For more information about our privacy practices please visit our website. By clicking below, you agree that we may process your information in accordance with these terms.

We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By clicking below to subscribe, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing. Learn more about Mailchimp's privacy practices here.

About us

Borenstein, McConnell & Calpin, P.C. is a Wills & Estate Planning law firm serving Central and Northern New Jersey, as well as New York City. We strive not only to give you a great client experience, but to become your trusted adviser for life. To reach Alec, please send an email to

NJ Offices:
155 Morris Avenue, Suite 201
Springfield, NJ 07081

3 Werner Way, Suite 230
Lebanon, NJ 08833

NY Office:
4607 Fort Hamilton Parkway
Brooklyn, NY 11219