Leona Helmsley started it all. In 2007, the renowned “Queen of Mean” hotelier and convicted tax evader gained notoriety of a different kind by leaving a $12M trust fund to provide for her dog Trouble after her passing. Since then, estate planning for pets has become increasingly popular.
But it’s not all Leona’s doing. In recent years, the status of the family pet has been elevated to family member in many households. Spending on pets has increased accordingly, with expenditures of $58B in 2014 triple those just 20 years prior. In what seems a rather telling data point, that includes $350M on Halloween costumes. For those families, the idea of leaving a beloved pet’s care to chance is unthinkable.
Luckily, there are options that allow pet “parents” to avoid that fate - even those who don’t have a spare $12M to earmark for doggy treats, kitty litter, and Yoda costumes. California probate law allows for the creation of a pet trust, a written document which can be used to specify provisions for the pet’s care. This document can allocate a sum of money for the pet’s benefit, individuals to act as trustees and/or caregivers, beneficiaries of any remainder assets, and much more. If your pet is more than “just a pet,” call your financial planner or estate planning attorney to learn more about how you can gain the peace of mind that comes from ensuring his or her well-being even after you’re no longer able to do so.