I. Authority for Pet Trusts in California – Probate Code Section 15212

The Code Provision authorizes the following:

  1. Funds to benefit the animals;
  2. Distribution of funds upon Trust termination;
  3. Enforcement of the Trust;
  4. Designation of the Trustee;
  5. Accounting requirements;
  6. Inspection of premises, books, and records;
  7. Definition of Animal.

II. Essential Trust Provisions

  1. Designating responsible Trustee
  2. Designating a responsible caretaker of pet. (The Trustee and the caretaker should not be the same person to avoid conflict and lose “checks and balances” availability).
  3. Designate specific funds for benefit of pet. This is determined by type and age and any specific needs.
  4. Properly identifying the pet and include any particular characteristics or behavior patterns.
  5. Detail type of care the pet is to receive. In essence, be specific as to when and how distribution of funds are to be utilized (veterinarian, special diet, etc.)
  6. Provide for care of the pet should the owner become temporarily or permanently incapacitated.
  7. Provide for caretaker fees and expenses. The Trustee can pay monthly, quarterly, annually or on a more flexible schedule.
  8. Accounting provisions may be included to the remainder beneficiaries of the Pet Trust fund.
  9. Identify Probate Code Section 15212 and the fact that the Pet Trust is authorized under California Law. a. Include a specific person ar a Trust Protector with authority to enforce the Pet Trust.
  10. Indicate whether the pet may be placed with a center for animals should the caretaker become unable or unwilling to care for the pet. For example, Helen Woodward Center. (See requirements below)
  11. Designate remainder beneficiaries of the Pet Trust fund on the death of the pet.

III. Helen Woodward Animal Center

  • Founded in 1972, as a non-profit organization, by Mrs. Woodward, who had a keen interest in the connection between humans and animals.
  • Helen Woodward Center continues to have a “no kill” philosophy which ensures that no healthy animal is ever euthanized. • Last year more than 3,000 animals were placed through the Center’s adoption program whichrepresents a 99% placement rate. Mission
  • The Center’s Placement Program reflects the belief that perpetual kenneling is not a suitable fate for an animal that has been living in a home.
  • Pets are accepted by the center with the understanding that every effort will be made to place the animal in a new home as quickly as possible.
  • The Helen Woodward animal is known for its commitment to do everything possible to match a pet’s personality and physical requirements with an  adoptive family.
  • The staff and volunteers of the Center make every effort to alleviate the  stress and anxiety suffered by some pets who are taken from their own  homes through personal attention, grooming, exercise, and socialization  techniques.
  1. The Center’s adoption program is limited to dogs and cats, although birds, rabbits, horses, exotic animals, and a variety of other creatures are used in the Center’s therapy and educational programs.
  2. Pets must be up to date with all of its required vaccinations and have veterinary records kept with other important papers.
  3. The Center provides physical examinations, vaccines, neutering/spaying for its adoptable animals, but to keep the costs down for both the center and the adoptive family, pet owners are urged to take care of these requirements before the pet comes to the center.
  4. For more expedient adoptions, animals should be in stable health with no chronic medical problems, and they should be of non-aggressive good temperament.
Bequest Commitment
  1. The Helen Woodward Center heavily relies on donations to fund its current humane and therapeutic programs.
  2. Costs to shelter, feed, groom, and provide medical care for orphaned animal in their care are substantial.
  3. Therefore it is necessary that charitable bequest donors make the following financial donation in order for the Center to accept their pets:

Dogs and care under three years of age – $5,000 per animal

Dogs and cats three to six years old – $10,000 per animal

Dogs and cats over six years of age – $20,00 per animal


If a pet owner wishes to bequeath their dog or cat to the Center, the following procedures should be taken care of to ensure the pet’s smooth and successful transition into their new/temporary home.

  1. Include a statement in your will or Trust that you wish the entrustment of your pet with the Helen Woodward Animal Center’s adoption program. Helen Woodward Animal Center has language that the attorney can incorporate into the Will or Trust. The gift may be unrestricted, or designated to the adoption program, or any other program that is of interest.
  2. Inform the Executor(s) of your estate, family members, and/or friends that you wish to have the pet cared for by the Center so that the transfer of the pet can be accomplished as soon as possible.
  3. Complete the Surrender Questionnaire form. This form provides the Center with important information about the pet’s name, medical history, lifestyle, preferences, and behavioral characteristics that will help staff find the best possible match with a new family.