When most people think of estate planning, I would venture a guess that their thoughts don’t usually include making provision for their pets in the event of their own untimely passing. That is not surprising given that most of us assume, correctly, that we will outlive our beloved four-legged companions. However, experience shows that such is not always the case. So, as you look deeply into the eyes of your faithful and devoted canine/feline, ask yourself: what happens to Fido when I’m no longer here?
Assuming you haven’t made any plan for your pet in the wake of your passing, have no worries; Oregon provides one, sort of. Oregon’s probate code provides that upon your passing, your family members or friends may take custody of your pet “immediately upon the death of the decedent.”  The pet’s custodian will be entitled to payment from your estate for the pet’s care, but will also be required to surrender Fido upon request of your heir(s).
However, if you are particular as to how and by whom Fido is to be cared for after you are gone, then consider making specific provisions for that contingency in your estate plan. It may surprise you to learn that some pet owners go so far as to establish a trust for their pets. If that surprises you, then you will be doggone bowled over to learn that such trusts are legally recognized and enforced in Oregon (and almost all other states) as part of the Uniform Trust Code.  Such trusts can be relatively simple in design (“I leave $1,000.00 in trust for the care of my dog Ollie”) or can be as specific and detailed as you choose. Any “person having an interest in the welfare of the animal” can petition the court to appoint a trustee to enforce the trust or to remove the person appointed.
While none of us will get out of this life alive, I’m pretty sure that my dog Ollie thinks I’ll be here forever. Perhaps your pet thinks of you in the same way. Having a plan for your pet in case forever doesn’t happen might be the next best thing.
© 1/31/2017 Charles A. Ford of Hunt & Associates, P.C. All rights reserved.
 ORS 114.215(3)
 Uniform Trust Code, Section 408; ORS 130.185