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Idaho Estate Planning and Your Pets

As Idaho’s Premier estate planning attorneys for over 70 years we have come to learn that every individual has specific needs that need to be addressed as a part of their basic estate plan. For most people, dealing with and planning to provide for their family and other loved ones is the most important part of their estate plan. We have also assisted clients who have a close relationship with their pets.

Many people are surprised to learn that estate planning can include documents and provisions to protect and provide for pets in the event of the owner’s incapacity or death. The goal of our team of estate planning attorneys is to carry out the valid goals and wishes of each specific client through their estate plan. Our team of attorneys includes partners Randy Budge and Lane Erickson and attorneys Nate Palmer and Dave Bagley. The combined skill, experience, and knowledge of our team includes decades of experience in providing customized plans for each individual we represent.

We also provide specific guidance and instruction to our clients who have special relationships with their pets. Our goal is to carry out the wishes of our clients in providing and protecting these pets in the event the owner can no longer take care of them or passes away. Below are some specific suggestions about what will work as part of an estate plan to provide for pets.

Last Will and Testament

Most people are familiar with a last will and testament. This is the basic document in an estate plan that allows an individual to leave instructions about who their money, assets, and property are to be given to after they die. The last will and testament is also commonly used by individuals to provide specific instructions about who their pet should go to. However the last will and testament does have some limitations that may not adequately provide for a pet.

Specifically, if you use your last will and testament as a way of directing who your pet should go to this will be honored. Your personal representative will deliver your pets to the individual you have chosen. However, if that is all that your last will and testament does, it may not adequately provide for your pets in a way that you would have desired. Once the individual receives your pet, your pet becomes their property and they are free to do with your pet whenever they choose including giving the pet away to others or puting the pet down. As a result, many people find that simply using a last will and testimony alone is not enough. This leads to the other specific options that might be used by an individual who owns pets.

Pet Protection Agreements

A pet protection agreement is a document that can be used while you are alive. Assume for a moment that due to a physical or mental injury or illness you are no longer able to care for your pet. A pet protection agreement gives you the ability to enter into a contract with another individual who agrees to take care of your pet for you while you are alive. The terms of the agreement could allow you to provide a certain amount of money to that individual who will be caring for your pet. However, typically a pet protection agreement will end when you pass away. For this reason the final option listed below might be what you will need to provide the ultimate care and protection for your pets.


A trust is an estate planning document that allows you to not only name an individual who will receive possession of and care for your pets but also allows you to provide money or property as a way of supporting your pet. The trust gives you the ability to name a trustee who will be responsible for distributions of your money or property to the person who is caring for your pet.

While many states have statutes that allow a specific pet trust to be created, Idaho is not one of them. However, Idaho does allow the creation of a “Purpose Trust” under Idaho Code § 15-7-601. According to the statutes a trust can be created for any purpose whether it’s charitable or non-charitable under the terms of a trust agreement or even in a last will and testament if the right language is included. A purpose trust does not need a beneficiary. Rather, it only needs a specific purpose. Because a pet cannot legally be a beneficiary, Idaho’s purpose trust statute could be used to create a trust for a pet.

By setting up a purpose trust, you have the ability to name a trustee who will care for your money and property. You also have the ability to name the individual who will receive your pets. Your purpose trust can then provide specific instructions to the trustee about making a distribution of money to support the individual who is caring for the pet during the lifetime of teh pet.

The terms of the trust could require the trustee to receive ongoing reports and evidence that the individual who received the pet is actually caring for the pet in a way that the trust describes. Once the trustee is satisfied that the obligation of caring for the pet is being met, the trustee can then follow your written instructions and make periodic distributions of money or property to the individual who has the pet in order to provide for and care for the pet. In this way, the original pet owner who creates the trust can be assured that not only is the right person receiving the pet but also that the pet is being adequately cared for.

So if you have a pet that you are concerned about and want to include as part of your estate plan, our team of Idaho estate planning attorneys can help. We have the skill, the experience, and the ability to carry out your wishes based on your instructions.

Enlist an Idaho Estate Planning and Probate Attorney to Help You

Our experienced Estate Planning team of attorneys can help you and your family with your Idaho estate plan or with your probate needs. Whether you are seeking your own customized Estate Plan or are in need of a Probate for a loved one who has passed, we are available to discuss your options and answer your questions at an initial consultation. Call us toll free at 877.232.6101 or 208.232.6101 for a consultation with the Racine Olson team. You can also email us directly at We will answer your questions and will help you solve your Idaho Estate Planning and Probate problems.

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