Many people ask about providing for their beloved pet when making a Will. Fortunately, Texas is one of the states which have adopted trust legislation enabling testators to make a Texas Will for pets.
To write a Will for your pet, you simply need to include the pet trust provision in your Last Will and Testament. You can either find the clause online or, preferably, contact an attorney for the appropriate wording.
The relevant statute is found in the Texas Property Code (section 112.037).
The pet trust last until your pet dies. If the trust is made to cover more than one animal, then the trust terminates once the last surviving pet dies.
You will need to designate a trustee. This is the person you appoint to manage the money or property on behalf of your pet. In addition to the trustee, you should name a beneficiary to inherit your pet. This person looks after the day to day care of your pet. The trustee and the beneficiary should be different persons if possible. Remember to discuss your intentions with these persons first. They are not required to take on the responsibility.
A Texas Will for pets can also designate an independent person to enforce the terms of the pet trust. This is useful in case your trustee starts making unreasonable payments or uses trust funds for their own personal use.
Be aware that you can only leave a reasonable amount in the trust. You cannot gift exorbitant assets beyond what is reasonably required to maintain your pet’s care. For example, $3 million and your yacht would be deemed excessive for the care of your 8 year old bunny.
Once the trust ends, any moneys remaining are distributed in accordance with your Will. Be sure to include a provision in your Texas Will for pets as to who receives the residue of the trust.
If you want to read the legislation for yourself, here is an excerpt of the relevant section:
Sec. 112.037. TRUST FOR CARE OF ANIMAL. (a) A trust may be created to provide for the care of an animal alive during the settlor’s lifetime. The trust terminates on the death of the animal or, if the trust is created to provide for the care of more than one animal alive during the settlor’s lifetime, on the death of the last surviving animal. (b) A trust authorized by this section may be enforced by a person appointed in the terms of the trust or, if a person is not appointed in the terms of the trust, by a person appointed by the court. A person having an interest in the welfare of an animal that is the subject of a trust authorized by this section may request the court to appoint a person to enforce the trust or to remove a person appointed to enforce the trust. (c) Except as provided by Subsections (d) and (e), property of a trust authorized by this section may be applied only to the property’s intended use under the trust. (d) Property of a trust authorized by this section may be applied to a use other than the property’s intended use under the trust to the extent the court determines that the value of the trust property exceeds the amount required for the intended use. (e) Except as otherwise provided by the terms of the trust, property not required for the trust’s intended use must be distributed to: (1) if the settlor is living at the time the trust property is distributed, the settlor; or (2) if the settlor is not living at the time the trust property is distributed: (A) if the settlor has a will, beneficiaries under the settlor’s will; or (B) in the absence of an effective provision in a will, the settlor’s heirs. (f) For purposes of Section 112.036, the lives in being used to determine the maximum duration of a trust authorized by this section are: (1) the individual beneficiaries of the trust; (2) the individuals named in the instrument creating the trust; and (3) if the settlor or settlors are living at the time the trust becomes irrevocable, the settlor or settlors of the trust or, if the settlor or settlors are not living at the time the trust becomes irrevocable, the individuals who would inherit the settlor or settlors’ property under the law of this state had the settlor or settlors died intestate at the time the trust becomes irrevocable.