For many families, a pet is a vital part of the family, and just as you want to provide benefits for your children and other loved ones, you may want to ensure that if anything happens to you, your beloved cat, dog or other pet is well taken care of and is offered the benefits they need to lead a full and happy life.
Since 2006, Pennsylvania has recognized trusts designed to benefit animals. If you’re concerned about what will happen to your animal when you’re no longer able to care for it, you may wish to speak to a pet trust attorney in Berks County, PA or your community to create a plan as part of your estate planning.
Understanding Pet Trusts in Pennsylvania
Under Pennsylvania law, pets cannot inherit from you directly. However, you can set up a pet trust. In a pet trust, you can assign a trustee, who will receive not only your pet, but also adequate money and assets to pay for your pet’s care when you’re no longer able to do so.
The trustee is then duty-bound to offer adequate care for your pet, as per the guidelines you set up. A trustee can be a bank, legal professional, trusted friend or advisor or someone else capable of taking care of your pet and the assets you have put in place to care for that pet.
You can set up a pet trust as part of your will, or you can set up an “inter vivos” trust, which will go into effect as soon as you are unable to care for your pet. Your trust will contain detailed information about the care your pet will receive. For example, you may indicate the pet must visit a specific doctor, get specific types of pet food, enjoy certain routines or favorite treats and so forth. The trust will remain in place until the end of your pet’s life, offering you complete peace of mind.
Types of Pet Trusts in Pennsylvania
There are three types of structures that can be used as pet trusts in Pennsylvania:
- Statutory Pet Trust. This type of trust allows you to designate a third party to ensure the assets in your trust are used by the trustee correctly in taking care of your pet.
- Honorary Pet Trust. This type of trust doesn’t designate a beneficiary specifically, which may make it harder to enforce.
- Traditional Legal Trust. In this type of trust, the pet and the assets to care for the pet are placed into the trust, while the trustee is the beneficiary of the trust. Your attorney can craft the language so the trustee is duty-bound to take care of the pet according to your wishes, using the money in the trust to do so. Some attorneys consider this type of trust to be among the strongest type of protection for your pet, provided the trust is set up correctly, and the trustee is chosen carefully.
A pet trust attorney near Reading, PA can help you determine which pet trust is most appropriate for your situation and can help you set up the right estate plan. An attorney can also help you determine how much you need to leave to care for your pet and can help you choose a trustee if you don’t have anyone in mind.
The Right Pet Trusts Attorney in Reading, PA
If you’d like to make sure your pet gets the proper care and attention after you’re gone and you would like the peace of mind that comes with knowing your pet is provided for no matter what happens to you, contact the attorneys at Miller Law Group for a consultation. Our offices in Reading are always open to clients in Berks County, Reading and the surrounding areas. We’d be happy to help you with estate planning for all your family members — including your pets.