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Pet Trust Lawyer Proudly Serving Livonia, Plymouth, Northville, and Surrounding Areas

Estate planning allows you to create a strategy for managing your assets, both during your lifetime and after you pass away.  Clients are increasingly recognizing the need to plan for their pets.


While planning a trust for a pet used to be considered eccentric, the reality is that are pets are important parts of our lives and should be consider an essential part of any estate plan.  Too often, when pets are not made a part of the estate plan, they are often left in limbo and unfortunately end up in a shelter or with family members who may view them as a financial burden.

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What is a Pet Trust and How Does it Work?

A pet trust is a legal arrangement that specifies how your animal companions will be cared for and taken care of financially when you pass away, or if you become seriously ill or disabled and can no longer take care of them yourself.


Trusts are especially good options for the care of your pet(s) since they are considered property in Michigan, and therefore the state provides no provisions for the care of pets if you pass without a plan in place.


For individuals who are creating or updating a revocable trust it is usually advisable to add pet trust language directly to the family trust, however, there can also be stand alone pet trusts.

Things to Consider When Establishing a Pet Trust

Creating a pet trust is similar to creating any other type of trust. At Matt Devitt Law, PLC, we will discuss in detail your individual situation and draft the trust to meet your needs. You will need to identify the person you want to serve as the care taker, and any successor care taker if you’re worried about your pet outliving them.


Additional considerations that will be discussed are:


  • Choosing the right trustee or caregiver:  There are many considerations when choosing the right person to care for your pets.  Considerations include age, their desire or ability to care for a pet, and proximity to other family members.


  • Detailed review of the type of pet that we are planning for including life expectancy and amount of money to properly care for:  For example, planning for a parrot requires a lot of consideration since they can live to be 80 years old.  Further, the amount of money to care for a horse is much different than a cat or dog.

  • Keeping pets together:  Pet transitions can be stressful for the animals and keeping them together during this time can be very important


  • Funding the trust:  Pet trusts that are “over-funded” can create tension with other beneficiaries of your estate.  However, a trust that is not funded to cover the pet’s costs through the life expectancy is also a challenge.  We will work together to strike the right balance. 


  • Consider the addition of trust protector:  Unlike with humans, if a trustee or caregiver isn’t doing his or her job, a pet has no way enforce the language of the trust.  Therefore, it is important that a trust protector is appointed to compel enforcement of a pet’s behalf.


  • Providing instructions for the end of the pet’s life:  We will discuss and set forth detailed health and wellness criteria for end of life decisions.  We will also discuss what should happen to any remaining money in the trust after the pets passing.

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Proudly Serving Livonia and Surrounding Areas

Why Do I Need a Pet Trust?

Trusts are complex legal documents that require a solid understanding of Michigan law. An improperly-formed pet trust may have no legal effect, leaving your pet to be distributed as property under your trust. At Matt Devitt Law, PLC we know that when you provide for a beloved pet, your pet trust will withstand legal challenges.


Being a pet parent is a big responsibility. That responsibility often continues even after you have passed away. Providing for your pet(s) via a Pet Trust gives you the piece of mind of knowing that they will be taken care of and your wishes honored.  Further, it will help ensure that your pet does not end up in a shelter or potentially mistreated by an unwilling caregiver.

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