Private Clients Advisory: Pet Trusts for Pet Owners

When planning for how your estate will be distributed upon death or management of your assets while disabled, have you considered what happens to your pets?

People often neglect to plan for the care of their pets when they are no longer able to. They often assume that someone will love and care for them as much as the owner.

Matthew J. CarlI agreed to take care of my daughter’s little dog during her vacation. I had dogs before and thought I knew what to do and when to do it. My daughter shocked me by supplying me with a two-page single spaced instruction sheet on daily care. Few estate planning clients mention their pets and the care they want or know the pet will need after their owner’s death or disability.

If you care about your pets well-being, upon your death or disability, you can legally provide for their care through an estate planning tool called Pet Trusts.

A Pet Trust permits a pet owner to designate an individual or individuals to care for their pets when they cannot. Pet Trusts provide funding for the pet’s care and specific instructions regarding care, including veterinarian visits, diet, exercise, and a whole lot more. Further, you can fund the trust with resources sufficient to pay for such care and compensate the caregiver. The trust lasts until the death of the pet or last pet to die if you have more than one pet. Any balance upon termination of the trust may be directed to beneficiaries under the Will or a charity for pet care.

When planning your estate, please advise your counsel if you have pets so they can explain your options, and how best to choose a guardian for your pet.

Meyer, Unkovic & Scott’s Private Clients Group assists individuals and families with the accumulation, management, transfer, and protection of personal wealth. We are one of the few Western Pennsylvania-based law firms with a sophisticated business practice and a fully diversified practice accommodating private clients. Our resources allow us to provide comprehensive service to meet all our clients’ personal needs. We are also qualified to handle complex estate disputes and disputed fiduciary matters.

Download a PDF copy of this advisory here.

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