Planned Giving

California Pet Trusts

On January 1st, 2009 a new law went into effect aimed at protecting animals after the deaths of their owners. Senate Bill 685, initiated by the SF SPCA and authored by Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/San Marco), is expected to reduce the burden on animal shelters, conserve public services and funds, protect defenseless pets, and guarantee that people's wills are carried out as intended. This is a great step forward in protecting pets throughout California. This law provides the legal basis to make certain that the careful planning of pet owners is carried out and that pets continue to be cared for and safeguarded even after the passing of their owners.

"Pets are an important part of the American family," said Yee. "This law makes pet trusts enforceable and assures that the wishes of the pet owners are respected."

Pet trusts in California had previously only been honorary, not enforceable by law. This new law makes pet trust law consistent with other trust law by requiring trustees to carry out trust instructions regarding pets, and by incorporating oversight to guarantee performance.

"Wills and trusts are the means for people to bestow their possessions and savings as they see fit," Yee added. "Under this new law, a pet owner will be assured that their pet will be properly cared for after their passing while also ensuring that kin are not burdened with undue pressure."

If you would like a copy of the SF SPCA's sample Pet Trust, please contact Jessica Sananes at (415) 554-3027 or

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