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Special Considerations: Leaving My Pet to Someone I Trust

According to a national pet owners survey, two thirds of American families own pets. Unbeknownst to many, estate planning law recognizes our love for our furry friends. We can provide for pets with our estate plans in case they survive us.

Your estate plan can include a “pet trust,” which will help ensure your pets continue comfortable lives if they survive you. Most importantly, a pet trust lets you designate someone as “trustee” who you want to take care of your pets in the event of your passing. This could be a close family member or friend that knows you and your love for your pets well. Pet trusts also allow you to set aside funding that maintains quality life for your pet.

Your pet trust will terminate upon the passing of your last surviving pet. Pennsylvania law limits use of funding in pet trusts “only to its intended use.” Your trustee will use the funding as you direct in your Pet Trust, which usually covers expenses such as food, veterinary care, and accessories. It is best to fund your pet trust based on your pet’s life expectancy.

Any pet trust funds exceeding the amount needed for providing for your pet distributes to beneficiaries of your Will or Trust. So, if you establish a Pet Trust during life, and no pets survive you, your heirs will receive these funds. But because we never know when God will call us home, it’s wise to plan for your pet with a Pet Trust.