Pet Trusts: Have You Planned?

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Thanks to attorney Barry Zimmer for this guest post.

To My Dog, Lucky, I Leave…

Did you hear about hotelier Leona Helmsley leaving a $12 million estate to her dog, Trouble, or  Queen Mum leaving £3 million to her sheep and cows?  Even Oprah has accounted for her pets’ futures, reportedly setting up a $30 million dollar trust for her beloved dogs.

But millionaires aren’t the only pet owners who are choosing to plan long-term for their animals’ care. In fact, it’s a growing trend among everyday families who are choosing to remember Fluffy and Fido if they should become incapacitated or die.importance of a pet trust

The growing popularity of pet trusts is in due to a law recently passed in Ohio and several other states that makes it possible to use trusts to plan for pets, just like family members.  Now, pet trusts are fully recognized by the court system and are the most comprehensive way to ensure that your beloved family pets know a good home when you’ve passed on. This Ohio law now provides enforcement of a pet trust through the courts, if necessary.

A pet trust typically directs your trustee to either provide a home for your pets or place them with a willing friend or family member. If a loving home cannot be found with those people, then the trust funds can be used to help care for the pet in home outside your circle of family and friends.  Money is left in trust to pay for the costs of either finding a loving home or temporarily providing care for the pets until a permanent home is found. Funds are also set aside to cover the costs of medical care, grooming, toys, food and shelter, luxury expenses (like visits to the pet spa!) and even your pet’s burial and memorial details.

Many pets in this country are orphaned each year, or worse, as their owners die without plans in place for pets.  Setting money aside in a trust for care of pets increases the likelihood of finding a loving home.

Pet trusts will be the topic of a free seminar at The Kenwood by Senior Star on Tuesday, August 27 from 4 to 6 p.m. I’ll be there detailing some of the things you should think about when setting up a pet trust, including:

  • Your pet’s life expectancy;
  • Unique lifestyle factors, such as food, grooming, toys and recreational needs;
  • Your pet’s health care, including chronic health conditions associated with your pet’s breed;
  • Visitation schedules should you become incapacitated;
  • Planning for a “Pet Protector” to keep your pet’s best interests in mind;
  • How to plan financially to establish a pet trust;
  • When to set up your pet trust.

In addition to covering these topics, my friends from the SPCA will be on-site “networking” with a few lovable pets that are in need of good homes. And The Kenwood by Senior Star will talk about its pet policies and the growth of pet-friendly senior living – “A Place for Mom” reports more than 40% of callers now ask for pet-friendly retirement community referrals!

To register for the event, call Jan at (513) 272-7926. The pet trust seminar is free, but reservations are required.

About the Author

Barry Zimmer is the founder of Zimmer Law Firm in Blue Ash. The firm devotes its practice to estate planning matters and has helped thousands of families meet their long-term estate and financial goals. Barry blogs regularly at For more information, contact Barry at (513) 721-1513 or email You can also set up your in-person consultation at 9825 Kenwood Road, Suite 201, Cincinnati, OH 45242.





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