Hook Law Center is often asked how can a client provide for a pet if the client becomes disabled or dies? Many states have adopted statutes that permit pet owners to establish trusts for the care of pets during the owner’s incapacity or after the owner’s death. Virginia joined these states on July 1, 2006, when Virginia Code § 55-544.08 became effective. This code section is modeled after a similar section of the Uniform Trust Code.
To plan for a disability, the client can include a provision in the client’s general durable power of attorney authorizing an agent to provide for the pet. The client can include a provision in the client’s will to make a gift of the pet and to provide a monetary gift to provide funds for the pet’s care. In Virginia, the client also has the option of creating a pet trust for the pet that appoints a trustee to manage funds for the pet’s care and appoints a caretaker for the pet. The Virginia pet trust statute provides for enforcement of the pet trust’s provisions.