Too many pets end up in shelters every year because their guardians died unexpectedly, leaving them with no one to care for them. In many cases, people assume that their family or friends will take care of their animals after they’re gone or maybe they even agree to do so. However, for a number of reasons, that doesn’t always work out — again leaving animals dumped into shelters.
This is why pet trusts have grown in popularity. In fact, 40 states, including Pennsylvania, have pet trust laws in place. Many estate planning attorneys have experience helping their clients include language in their estate planning documents to specify whom you want to care for your animals after you’re gone and how much money you want to go to your designated pet caregiver to help with the cost of caring for them.
Pennsylvania’s pet trust law, which was passed nearly ten years ago, allows a person to set up a trust for the care of any animal alive during his or her lifetime. The trust is applicable until the last surviving animal’s death.
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If you want to include a pet trust in your estate plan or add one to your already-existing plan, it may be wise to choose an estate planning attorney with experience in drafting pet trusts or at least one who is understanding of how important it is that your pets be well cared for and safe when you’re no longer able to care for them. Of course, you should be certain that whomever you’re designating as the caregiver is able and willing to do so. It may be wise to select one or two alternate caregivers if for some reason your designated caregiver can’t fulfill his or her responsibilities. Making sure that your beloved animals will be fine after you’re gone can be a huge load off of your mind.
Source: FindLaw, “Pet Trusts: Providing For Fido and Fluffy,” Joel Zand, accessed Dec. 31, 2015
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