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Taking care of pets upon the owner's death with a pet trust

Pets play an important role in a person's life. Whether Pennsylvania pet owners treat their beloved dogs and cats as their best friends or as buddies, the animals often receive the utmost care. However, life is full of surprises, such as a person becoming unexpectedly incapacitated or dying; these changes may bring changes to the family. Regarding family pets, if the person does not designate what should be done with the pet, that pet may end up in an animal shelter.

Fortunately, personal property, like a dog, cat or other family pet, can be included in an estate plan. Some pet owners include their family pets in their last will and testament or trusts. Consider, for example, a couple who owned four dogs and a 16-year-old horse. The couple is in the process of establishing a plan for their family pets. The pair wants their daughter to take care of the pets in the event that they both die. They are also planning to set aside funds to be used for the pets.

In estate planning, creating a trust rather than a will may be beneficial. The trust may assign a caretaker for the pets as well as an overseer for the trust. The overseer will make sure that the designated caretaker is really doing what he or she is supposed to be doing. The trust may also include the sum of money to fund the cost of taking care of the pets. These costs may involve veterinary bills, food and other necessities. A provision which designates how the sum of money is distributed when the pet dies can also be established in a trust.

Most often, trust administration deals with end-of-life issues that likely secure the financial well-being of the family of the decedent. However, through pet trusts and other estate planning tools in Pennsylvania, a person is assured that their beloved pets will continue to receive good care.

Source: Post Independent, "Out with your dog: Estate planning is important for your pets, too," Sept. 26, 2013

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