Probate, trust, guardianship and inheritance litigation
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Can I Leave Assets To My Pet In California?

By Andrew Gold, Esq.

California pet owners and animal lovers frequently ask: Can I leave assets to my pet so that my pet can be taken care of after I pass away?  The answer is no, you cannot leave assets to your pet.  But, you can definitely provide for your pet’s care for the rest of your pet’s life by forming and funding a California pet trust.

What is a California Pet Trust?

In California, a pet trust is a legal document that is created to make sure you provide assets specifically for the care of your pet after you pass away.  Pet trusts are governed by California Probate Code 15212.

The pet trust must be funded with money or property.  The assets in the trust will fund the care of your pet for the rest of your pet’s life.  Unless the pet trust provides otherwise, the trust terminates when no animal living on the date of your death remains alive.  A pet trust cannot provide for any offspring of your pets that were not alive at the time of your death.

When you create the pet trust, you can direct where the remaining assets of the trust go when your beloved pet passes away.

In the pet trust, you name the person (called the trustee) that you want to be responsible to use the money in the pet trust to pay for your pet’s care.

Important Reminders For Your California Pet Trust:

  • Clearly identify your pet or pets that you want to provide for in the pet trust.
  • Pick the right person to serve as trustee of the pet trust. This is the person who will be responsible for distributing the trust assets to care for your fur baby.  Make sure that the trustee has the same standards that you do for the care of your pet, or is committed to carrying out your care standards.
  • Fund the pet trust with enough assets to care for your pet. Estimate the annual cost of caring for your pet(s).  Be mindful that if you put too much into your pet trust, your family or loved ones might challenge the amount and the Court might reduce the assets in your pet trust.
  • Choose the right person to care for your pet. The trustee of the California pet trust does not have to be the same as the person who actually takes care of your pet.

A California pet trust is the way to leave assets for the care of your pet after you pass away, and to make sure they are cared for until they cross over the rainbow bridge.


Andrew S. Gold, Esq.

Probate & Trust Litigation

Hourly & Contingency Fees Available

(650) 450-9600