Estate Planning For Your Pets

        Although over 63% of U.S. households own pets, only a few have made arrangements for the care of their pets in the event of their death or disability. This is surprisingas pet owners may include provisions for the care of their petsduring their lifetime and upon their death, in their Wills, Revocable Trusts, and financial PowersOf Attorney.

        Maryland residents have been able to create trusts for the care of their pets since 2009, with the enactment of the Trust For The Care Of Animal law. The ability ofpet owners to provide for the care of their pets, has been further expanded with the enactment of the Maryland Trust Act in 2014. That Act clearly permits the creation of trusts for the care of animals. Provisions therein state that an individual may create a trust for the care of one or more animals which are alive during their lifetime. The law further provides that if a trust is created for one identified pet, that trust will terminate upon the death of that pet, whereas if a trust is created for the benefit of several pets, the trust will terminate upon the death of the last surviving pet.

        The Maryland Trust Act also permits a pet owner to identify in the trustthe individual who has theauthority to enforce the provisions of the trust.  Additionally, the trust must state who is to get the property in the trust upon the death of the pet or pets for which the trust was created.  A trust may also designate who will be the custodian of the pet and specify the care which the pet owner wants to be provided to their pet. For example, in addition to theauthority to spend trust funds for a pet is health care and welfare, the trust would also authorize expenditures for animal treats, yearly teeth cleaning, periodic veterinary and emergency care, as well as burial expenses.

        Similar trust provisions may also be included in a pet owner is Revocable Trust or Power Of Attorney, whereby the Trustee or Power Of Attorney Agent is granted theauthorityto use the owner is assets to care for their pet during their lifetime. Again, the documents should clearly identify the pet or pets to be provided for, and specify the care which is to be providedtosuchpet orpetsutilizing the pet owner is assets.
Prepared by Valerie A. Rocco, September, 2016.