Estate Planning And Our Pets

We all love our pets and want to ensure that they are taken care of after we die.  There are several options for pet owners in Colorado.  The most elaborate option is to establish a pet trust.  To create a pet trust you must set aside a certain amount of money to be used to care for your pet(s) and you must name a trustee to manage those funds.  The trustee may physically take care of the pet(s) or they may arrange for the pet(s) to be taken care of elsewhere.  In the case of horses for example, the trustee may pay a stable to board your horses if they are unable to physically shelter the animals.  The trust terms should include the amount of money held in trust; when distributions may be made by the trustee, when the trust will terminate and what will happen with any monies left over when the trust terminates.  The trust will be terminated when your pet(s) die, or when there is no money remaining in the trust.  If there are remaining monies in the trust, they may be devised to the trustee at the death of the pet(s) or they may be left to another person and or charity.  A pet trust is often called an honorarium trust.

As an alternative to a pet trust, if your will or trust document gives you the opportunity to dispose of your personal property through use of a personal property memorandum, you may list your pet(s) on your memorandum giving them to an individual at your death.  This method may be risky because the person you give your pet(s) to may not have the funds to take care of your pet(s).  In addition, the person you give your pets to may decline to take the gift.  It is important to talk to the people you want to care for your pets to ensure that they will agree to care for your pet(s) and that they not only have the funds to care for your pet but the time and a good home for them as well.   

Tamra K. Waltemath

Tamra K. Waltemath

This article was written by Tamra K Waltemath of Tamra K. Waltemath, P.C.  This information is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.  For specific questions, you should consult a qualified attorney. Tamra K. Waltemath is an elder law attorney focusing on wills, trusts, estate and trust administration, probate and non-probate transfers, guardianships and conservatorships.  She can be contacted at:  Tamra K. Waltemath, P.C., 3843 West 73rd Avenue, Westminster, CO  80030; 303-657-0360; or visit her website at:

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