McClellan Legal LLC Estate Planning & Tax Assessment Blog

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Pet Trusts

About 10 years ago, Pennsylvania joined numerous other states by allowing pet owners the option of setting up a trust to care for their pets.  Pennsylvania’s pet trust statute is important because pets would otherwise be treated like property and not be eligible to receive a portion of your estate for their care. 

Your pet trust should name a trustee to manage the pet trust assets and to take care of your pet.  Alternatively, your pet trust may appoint someone other than your trustee to manage day-to-day care.  You will want to provide the trustee and care giver instructions regarding your pet’s food preferences, medical care (e.g., preferred veterinarian), and daily routines.

Under Pennsylvania law, you can set up a trust as part of your will (i.e., a testamentary pet trust) that will go into effect upon your death.  Additionally, you can create a living pet trust that is funded with assets while you are still alive.  A living trust solves the problem of caring for your pet when you a still alive but lack full capacity to manage your pet’s needs.  Without this incapacity planning, your pet may be stuck in limbo between the time of your incapacity and your death. 

Your pet trust should be funded with enough money to meet your pet’s needs for their entire life.  You can fund your pet trust with assets from your estate or by appointing the pet trust to be a beneficiary of a life insurance policy or other financial account.  Your pet trust will terminate at your pet’s death.  The assets remaining in your pet trust when the trust terminates will revert back to you if you are alive or be distributed to named beneficiaries (e.g., individuals or charities) after your death.  

It will be my pleasure to discuss how we can incorporate your pets into your estate plan. 

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McClellan Legal LLC is located in Kennett Square and serves clients throughout the areas of Avondale, Chadds Ford, Coatesville, Downingtown, Landenberg, Oxford, Phoenixville, Pottstown, West Chester, & West Grove.

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