Redding, California, Law Blog

Can my pet inherit from my estate after I die?

On Behalf of | Feb 11, 2024 | ESTATE PLANNING - Estate Planning

If you consider your pets an important part of your family, you likely want to ensure that they are well cared for when you pass away.

However, you cannot just leave them assets as you would a person because a pet is not a person and, therefore, cannot inherit.

The law considers pets as property

However much character Mr. Joules, your Persian cat may have, he has no more legal standing than the bed he snuggles up to you on or the metal bowl you lovingly place his food in twice a day. In the eyes of the law, ‘he” is an it.

You can use a pet trust

With all of this said, you can look after your pet by placing money in a pet trust supervised by a trustee. You can also name someone to care for the pet on a daily basis. You can pick one person to fulfill both roles or split it to provide some oversight.

You can set how the trust money will be used, and the trustee should distribute it to the person of your choosing (typically the person taking care of your pet) per the rules you set out. If you wish to release $20 every Wednesday to buy Mr. Joules a fine piece of salmon, you can. If you wish for him to attend the grooming parlor once a month, you can stipulate the trustee releases money for that. Or, you can just leave it for the trustee to use their judgment as to when money needs spending.

Learning more about how to create a pet trust can give you peace of mind, knowing that your pet who has given you so much comfort will be well looked after when you are no longer around. Seeking legal guidance is a good way to get started.