Pet Trust and CGA

How does a charitable gift annuity work within Latham Lifelong Pet Care?
A charitable gift annuity is a contract between a charity and a donor that allows the donor to transfer cash (or other assets) to the charity in exchange for a partial tax deduction and a monthly stream of income for the donor. Your monthly income will be a percentage of the total charitable gift annuity determined by your age at the beginning of your commitment to Latham Lifelong Pet Care. Upon your passing, Latham Lifelong Pet Care will retain the residual gift.

What is a pet trust?
As of 2012, you may, under Massachusetts law, create a trust with your pet as the beneficiary. As the beneficiary of the trust, your pet will be cared for in the manner you specify for the remainder of the pet’s life. A pet trust is a separate document, but should be done in conjunction with a Last Will and Testament and other estate planning documents. Pet trusts are structured to reflect your wishes for the care of your pets when you are no longer able to care for them.

How would the pet trust work?
In order for Latham Centers Lifelong Pet Care to take care of your pet, you will name Latham Centers as the Trustee of your pet trust. Latham, as Trustee, will then appoint a Caretaker for your pet. You may also name a Trust Protector who will ensure, along with Latham that your wishes are carried out.

What services do you provide and how specific can I be?
While you, the pet owner, can never be replaced, you can rest assured that our staff and residents will provide your pet with all of the affection it was used to receiving when with you. Whether your pet requires a special diet or medication, or simply needs a little extra TLC or increased exercise, we are here to accommodate your specific needs.

Which states recognize the Pet Trust Laws?
As of 2014 there are currently 46 States which recognize the Pet Trust Laws. Massachusetts enacted the Pet Trust Law in 2011. Those states that currently do not recognize the law are KY, LA, MN & MS.

Is it possible to create a pet trust even if my state does not have a pet trust law?
Yes, as long as there is some connection between either your residence or where the pet will be entrusted to:

  • the trustee lives within a pet trust law state;
  • the appointed caretaker lives in said state.
  • the pet retirement home you have chosen is located in pet trust law state
  • you currently own property within pet trust law state.

When do I create a trust?
You can create a trust at any time, but the key question is not when you do it, but rather, when the trust becomes effective. If you create a Will that directs for the creation of a trust, the trust will not become effective until after your death. On the other hand, you can also create a pet trust while you are still living, known as a living trust or an “inter vivos” trust.

What information should I provide the designated guardian and/or caretaker of my pet?
It is important that designated guardians and/or caretakers know the following information about your pet:

  • Your pet’s habits (eating, sleeping, exercising) – Your pet’s personality (ok around other animals?, good with children?, etc.) – Your pet’s veterinarian and any relevant medical history
  • Each Pet Retirement Facility will have its own policies & procedures.

Can I put my pet in my will?
Yes, you can put your pet in your will. However, you can not name your pet as a beneficiary, because animals are legally defined as property. You can however, create provisions in your will for your pet’s care. Leona Helmsley’s case is a perfect example.


Are there precautions I can take regarding my pet in the event of an emergency?
It is vitally important for pet owners to have set instructions for the care of his or her pets readily available should an emergency arise. Pet owners should carry a copy of instructions on their person with information on who should be called in the case of emergency, and in a place easily seen in the home with instructions as to how to contact appointed trustee and what arrangements should be made.

As a multiple pet owner, can my pets stay together in the event of my hospitalization or death?
Realistically, if you are an owner of more than two pets, it will likely be a burden on one caretaker to care for all your animals; however if this is determined beforehand, then the transition will be painless and your animals can stay together.

Is there a limit to the amount of money I can leave my pets?
It is recommended that owners leave a reasonable amount of money so your request is not challenged by family members or invalidated by the court. Funds can come from a variety of places–-possibly from a small term life insurance policy, your savings and your will, trust or bank account that names the trustee and transfer at death, or “payable on death” clause on the signature card. The possibilities are endless. The important part is that you provide instructions regarding care, feeding, exercise, veterinary care, and burial for your pet.

How much money should I transfer to the trust?
The amount of money you need to properly care for your pet will differ depending on the kind of animal you have, its life expectancy, needs, and other factors. The key legal question is not really how much you transfer to the trust, but whether that amount is reasonable. If you transfer too much money to the trust your family may challenge it and the court might declare it invalid. Consult your attorney for advice on Trust amounts and other details.

What happens to my animals if I don’t have a trust?
They may be placed with willing family or friends. Unfortunately this is not guaranteed and although care may have been promised to you; with nothing in writing there is a good chance they will end up at Shelters and unfortunately later euthanized. Pet Trusts protect them from that fate.

Please consult an attorney in regards to your Pet Trust. A list of Cape-wide attorneys can be found here.

We recommend you consult a financial planner to further investigate the best option for your life plans and goals.