Estate plans are designed to ensure that your loved ones are taken care of after your pass away. Loves ones often include one’s spouse, children, and other relatives. But what about pets? Unless an estate plan specifically accounts for our furry (and not so furry) companions, PA law sees them as property, no different than an old couch or a kitchen table.
For most of us, the prospect of having our cherished pets treated as property is haunting. Fortunately, there are ways in which you can accommodate your pet’s needs in your estate plan. This is primarily done via the appointment of an alternate pet guardian, or a pet trust.
Appointing a Pet Guardian
Pets, like children, need to be diligently looked after. They can’t provide their own daily needs and medical treatments, which is where a pet guardian comes into play. In your estate plan, you can specify who gets ownership of your pets after you pass. While your pets are still legally treated as property under this type of arrangement, this is usually enough to provide pet owners with peace of mind and assurance that someone will always be there to look after their pet, no matter what.
Those who want to leave even less to chance can establish a pet trust. This is a type of trust that lets you specify exactly how your pet should be cared for, down to the last detail. You can also include specific requirements for how funds should be spent on needs such as grooming, food, vet bills, and more, though do note that the funds and the requests need to align reasonably or the trust could be “cancelled” out by the courts.
Finally, it’s important to remember that you cannot directly give funds to your pet in PA. Rather, the funds are tied to the trust, which becomes void if the pet passes away.
Talk to a Qualified Estate Planning Attorney in PA
We at Egbert & Barnes, P. C. hope this brief overview of pet trusts provided you with a useful starting place as you plan for the future. If you want to learn more about this topic, or need to speak with a qualified estate planning attorney in PA, we invite you to call us directly at Egbert & Barnes, P. C.
Remember, we offer free initial consultations, so don’t delay in calling our offices at 215-886-6600.