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Pet Guardian/Trust

What Is a Legal Guardian?

A legal guardian typically refers to an individual who has the legal authority to care for another person. A pet guardian is an individual responsible for the care and welfare of another person's pet.

Why Will I Need a Pet Guardian?

A pet owner generally needs a pet guardian to “adopt” the pet when the owner is no longer able to care for it or dies. By picking a pet guardian, the owner avoids having to give the pet to a shelter or make the pet homeless.

Is There a Legal Document I Can Use to Name My Pet Guardian?

Yes, many people use a separate agreement to name a pet guardian during the estate planning process. 

What is Estate Planning for Pets?

A pet trust is a trust created for the continued maintenance and care for an owner's animal or animals. The trust has money or property in it to aid in taking care of the pets. The trust also has a designated pet trustee to administer the trust.

Is a Designated Pet Trustee the Same as a Pet Guardian?

No. The designated pet trustee takes care of the financial part of the care of the pet. The pet guardian is the one responsible for the daily care and maintenance of the pet. Some people name one person both the designated pet trustee and pet guardian.

However, owners can choose different people for each role. If that's the case, owners should have a system in case the trustee and the guardian disagree about certain issues.

Can I Have More than One Pet Guardian?

Yes. A pet owner can name more than one pet guardian. A pet owner can name other people or organization to care for the pet if the first or second one can't.

Will I Need to Make More than One Agreement for Each Pet?

Yes, a pet owner may need to make more than one agreement for each pet.

Should I Talk to an Attorney about Naming Pet Guardians?

Yes, it's helpful to talk with an estate attorney to avoid some common issues related to pet trusts and to draft the agreements.