News & Thought Leadership from Sulloway & Hollis

September 20, 2021

Who’s Going to Take Care of Rover & Mittens After You’re Gone?

Our pets are part of our families, and New Hampshire law provides us with a special way to care for them after we pass away: Pet Trusts

Though pets cannot receive money or property if left directly to them in a will, or traditional trust, they can be named as a “Beneficiary” of a pet trust, which “terminates” upon the death of the last surviving animal covered by the trust. Pet trusts can cover more than just one four-legged family member, and can include birds, reptiles, or even fish.

A pet trust is treated similarly to a regular trust, but the trust must name a caretaker for your pet(s), along with a trustee (who is responsible for distributing money or property to the caretaker.)

To create a viable pet trust, the trust document must outline how much money and/or property will be required for the animal’s continued care. In making this decision, you’ll want to take into account the life expectancy of your pet, future medical needs, and the size of your estate. You’ll also want to outline a plan for the remainder of the funds if the animal(s) do not use all of it before they pass. You can consider leaving the remainder to the caregiver or a charity in the name of the pet.

To help make the transition to the caretaker smoother, you’ll want to outline important details about your pet: their favorite food, where they like to sleep, favorite toys, and other important information. These details, along with a properly drafted trust document, will help ensure your pet is well cared for, in accordance with your wishes for the rest of its life.

If you would like more information about pet trusts or discuss your estate plans, please contact our Estate Planning team at 603-223-2800 or email