While you may use your will to provide for your heirs by distributing your assets among them, Massachusetts law does not allow you to leave money to your pets as a gift. However, you may still ensure that there are resources to care for your pets by creating a trust. Establishing a pet trust may allow you to name a person to take over as a guardian after you pass away and ensure there is enough money to give your pet the level of care you desire for them.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund provides information on pet trusts and how to establish one. The ALDF recommends creating a trust for your pet rather than just listing your pet in your will in the same manner as your human beneficiaries. In most cases, a court will not allow you to simply distribute property to a pet as you may to a spouse or child. By creating a trust, you may ensure that the funds you leave for your pet’s care will accomplish that purpose.
When creating a trust, you may list specific instructions for your pet’s care, such as information on diet, exercise and veterinary care. You may also name a trustee to manage the financial aspects of the trust and a caregiver for your pet. The ALDF recommends naming two separate people instead of choosing one person to be the caregiver and trustee. Another aspect of the trust should cover the distribution of any funds that remain after your pet passes away. You may choose to donate the money to a charity or distribute it among your other heirs.
This general information on pet trusts is intended for educational purposes and should not be taken as legal advice.