Pet Trusts in California

As a Folsom attorney who specializes in estate planning, I have many clients who truly love their pets. This should not be surprising, as Folsom is a city with a very large pet population and owners who treat their pets as members of their families. California, like many other states in the United States, allows for the creation of pet trusts, which are legal arrangements designed to provide for the care and financial support of pets in the event of their owner’s incapacity or death. 

Pet trusts can be an important component of estate planning for individuals who want to ensure their beloved animals are cared for after they are no longer able to do so themselves. Here are some key details about pet trusts in California:

1. Legal Basis: Pet trusts in California are governed by California Probate Code § 15212. One of the primary requirements is that the pet is alive during the trust creator’s lifetime. As such, a pet trust cannot be created for a future pet. 

2. Trustee: The person or entity responsible for managing the pet trust and ensuring that the funds are used for the care of the designated pet(s). You can appoint a trustee in your pet trust document.

3. Caregiver: The individual(s) you designate as the caregiver(s) responsible for the day-to-day care and well-being of your pet(s). This person should be someone you trust to provide appropriate care. Many clients choose to name the same individual as trustee and caregiver, and this is permissible under state law. 

4. Funding: You can fund a pet trust with assets or funds specifically designated for the care of your pet(s). The assets are then managed by the trustee for the pet’s benefit.

5. Instructions: A pet trust document should include clear and specific instructions regarding the care of your pet, including dietary preferences, medical needs, exercise routines, and any other important details. Furthermore, it is not uncommon for pet trusts to be created within living trusts, so that the pet is provided for after the creator of the trust passes away. 

6. Termination of the Trust: The pet trust will terminate when the last surviving pet named in the trust document passes away. Any remaining assets may be distributed as directed in the trust document.

7. Court Review: California law allows for court review of the pet trust to ensure that the funds are being used appropriately for the care of the pet(s). This ensures that any funds designated for the pet actually go to the pet and are not otherwise misappropriated by the trustee, caregiver or another party. 

8. Statutory Limitations: California law sets certain limitations on pet trusts, such as a maximum duration of 21 years, unless the pet(s) is still alive. Additionally, the trust cannot be used to benefit a pet owner or caregiver beyond what is necessary for the pet’s care.


When creating a pet trust in California, it’s essential to work with an experienced Folsom attorney who specializes in estate planning and is familiar with the state’s laws regarding pet trusts. This ensures that your pet trust is legally valid and that your wishes for the care of your beloved animals are properly documented and carried out. Once created, be sure to regularly review and update your pet trust as your circumstances or the needs of your pets change. If you have any questions about pet trusts, please contact Thapar Law at 916-579-0605 or send us a message

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