Pet Trusts: Providing for Your Pet

Download a .PDF version of our Pet Trusts brochure.

You may wonder what you would do without your pet, but what would your pet do without you?

Ron Greening, Austin estate planning attorney, and a Texas Longhorn

Most American households have pets that are dearly loved and cared for by their families. These animals are regarded as an integral and loving member of the family. Many animals outlive their owners, after the owners are gone the pets must have care or they perish. It is vital that you plan for their welfare after you are gone. Now is the time to plan for the future of your family member through a Pet Trust.

Under Texas law, your pet is a personal possession, which could be distributed or sold with all of your other things when you die. A way to be sure your wishes are followed is to establish a Pet Trust.

What is a Pet Trust?

A Pet Trust, usually honorary, is established for the care and maintenance of a particular animal or group of animals and includes instructions for who you want to handle your pet's needs and how to spend assets left for them after you die or become incapacitated.

Pet Trusts set up rules and guidelines for the care of animals. The Trust is designed to use a portion of your assets to provide your pet with all of the amenities they had when their owner was alive.

Establishing a Pet Trust Provides for the:

  • health,
  • maintenance,
  • support,
  • housing, and
  • any other special instructions necessary for the care of your beloved pet.

Pet Trusts Provide Peace of Mind

One of the most important aspects of a Pet Trust, is the peace of mind it provides. This binding trust requires that your animal be cared for in specific ways by a caretaker you assign. If the caretaker is not following your directions, a new caretaker will be appointed. This prevents the caretaker from using your assets in an inappropriate way or not giving your pet the proper attention. The predictability a Pet Trust provides will assure you that your animal is left in good hands.

The funding of your Pet Trust can be in any amount. Tobacco heiress Doris Duke chose to leave her Shar-Pei, named Rodeo, $100,000. This might be an extreme situation, however you know the proper amount for your pet. Upon the death of your pet, any assets remaining in the Pet Trust can be distributed to any person or charities you choose.

Pet Trusts are a great way to plan for the future of those that have taken care of you. We encourage you to schedule a consultation with our attorneys in order to discuss whether a Pet Trust would be appropriate for your family.

Why a Pet Trust is Better than a Will

  1. Time is of the essence. Pets depend upon their owner for daily care. A will must be probated before it becomes effective. The court may not formally recognize and put your plan into action for days or even weeks, assuming there are no legal disputes. The probate court usually takes a few weeks before an executor is appointed to handle the estate.
  2. Protection if you get ill or incapacitated. A will goes into effect only after you die. A will has no power should you become ill or incapacitated. A trust allows you to set provisions that would empower the Trustee to use the funds that you had set aside for the pet's care even during your lengthy disability.
  3. Peace of mind. A trust gives you the peace of mind that someone is caring for your pet per your instructions. Your Trustee and the pet's caretaker are legally bound to follow-through with your wishes.

The Greening Law Firm, P.C. gladly offers this service for your family. Included in your planning we provide:

  • A Pet Trust plan arrangement including trustee instructions, all of the estate planning documents and a copy of the estate planning papers to put in a safety deposit box.
  • An Alert Card to carry in your wallet so that Emergency Contacts can be notified of your pet(s) needs. This ensures the safety of your loved pet that may otherwise be forgotten in a time of need.
  • Tools and forms that help you organize your information to make sure the caregiver has copies of your pet's veterinary records and information about the animal's behavior traits and dietary preferences.
  • An Emergency Fire Rescue Sticker to display for firefighters to know who is in the house and needs to be safely evacuated.


The Greening Law Firm, P.C. serves clients in Austin, Georgetown, Bee Cave, Lakeway, Lake Travis, Round Rock, Cedar Park, Pflugerville, Temple, Hutto, Leander, Manor, Dripping Springs, Blanco, Wimberley, San Marcos, Bastrop, Elgin, Westlake and Central Texas.