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Purpose Trusts and Pets
A very different use of purpose trusts
Did You Know? As of 2023, about 66% of U.S. households (86.9 million homes) own a pet. According to the American Pet Products Association, Americans spent $136.8 billion on their pets in 2022. These numbers capture how prevalent pets have become in our lives and how much we care for their needs. Our pets have become so significant in our lives that we are even setting up purpose trusts for them to ensure they are still cared for even after we die.
A Different Kind of Purpose Trust. Here at EO+WD, we focus on purpose trusts that tackle pressing environmental and social problems or that benefit employees of a company. But the legal structure underneath purpose trusts is a remarkably flexible thing.
What are Purpose Trusts? Purpose trusts are different from traditional trusts because they generally do not have ascertainable (human) beneficiaries. They exist to carry out specific purposes such as maintaining a pet or maintenance of a gravesite. Like other trusts, a purpose trust has a trustee who is responsible for overseeing assets in the trust according to the terms set by the trust’s creator. Purpose trusts are essentially reassurance that your wishes will be carried out even if you aren’t around anymore.
Purpose Trusts for Pets: Since we can’t legally leave money to our pets, pet owners are setting up purpose trusts for them. This allows pet owners to give clear guidance on how to care for their pets while also leaving enough money behind to cover all its costs. Those with smaller to moderate estates might allocate funds for pet needs through their wills or revocable trusts, while others with larger estates or more complex needs would be better supported by setting up a purpose trust. Pet purpose trusts can cover caretaker pay, health insurance and medication, maintenance and grooming, and even food and treats!