PET TRUSTS: Don’t Forget Fido!
Pets are increasingly becoming a very important part of our lives. For many people, especially the elderly, a pet is more than just an animal, it is a part of the family, sometimes the sole companion for an individual. As such, it is important to plan for the care of your pet in the event that you pass away before your pet does. One way to do this is by establishing a Pet Trust. Establishing a Pet Trust will help ensure that your pet is well cared for should you be unable to provide care to him/her in the future. In 2006 Pennsylvania became one of many states to allow for a trust to be established for an animal.
Sadly, often times when an individual passes away there is no one available to take a pet that is left behind. Family members or friends may be reluctant to take on the care of the pet due to financial or other reasons. Unfortunately, many animals in this situation are then taken to a shelter. Planning ahead for who will take your pet, and providing the financial resources to care for the pet can prevent this from happening.
Under Pennsylvania law “a trust may be created to provide for the care of an animal alive during the settlor’s lifetime. The trust terminates upon the death of the animal or, if the trust was created to provide for the care of more than one animal alive during the settlor’s lifetime, upon the death of the last surviving animal.” 20 Pa. C.S. §7738. Establishing a trust for a pet allows an individual to appoint a person who will take the pet at his/her passing or incapacity, and make sure that the pet is cared for according to the individual’s specific wishes. This allows an individual to provide instructions specifically for his/her pet. This may include leaving funds in the trust to be used for the pet’s food, veterinary care, grooming, etc. The funds in the trust must be applied only for its intended use, except to the extent a court determines that the value of the trust property exceeds the amount required for the intended use. Most importantly, a properly prepared Pet Trust allows for the trust to be enforced by a person appointed in the document, or by requesting the court to appoint a person if there is no such person appointed. As stated above, the trust will continue for the life of the pet/s, thereby providing peace of mind that your pet will be cared for, for as long as he/she lives.
There are many factors to consider when establishing a Pet Trust, such as how much money will be required to care for your pet, whom to appoint as trustee, whether the trust will be established during your lifetime or through your Will at your death, etc. Therefore, it is important to consult an attorney experienced in estate planning when considering a Pet Trust. If you would like more information on setting up a Pet Trust please call McAndrews Law Offices at 610-648-9300 and ask to speak with one of our estate planning attorneys.