Pet owners love their pets; there is no doubt about that. Most even consider them to be an important member of the family. As much as we may consider our pets a true companion, the law still considers them to be property, not a person. Pets cannot inherit a gift like a brother, aunt or friend could. You can't leave your ranch to your free roaming cat or your truck to your dog because he loved riding in it.
While your pet cannot receive a gift like a person, trusts can be set up in benefit of the animal. One of the most well-known pet trusts was set up in The Big Apple when a woman attempted to leave her Maltese $12 million. The court didn't allow that, but it wasn't because it was in benefit of the pet. The trust was upheld but the award was reduced to one that was more practical in terms of the cost of caring for the pet.
Caring for a pet may bring emotional reward, but they still financially cost a lot. Even a healthy pet dog costs approximately $688 per year simply to feed and provide flea and tick treatment. When you consider boarding the animal while on vacation, special needs that arise when they get sick or anything else, the costs can increase significantly.
While pets are still considered property under the law, a new area of study is emerging. In fact, approximately 100 law schools across the nation teach a course called animal law, and 46 states have specific laws that authorize the creation of a trust in benefit of a pet.
So if you have one of those beloved family members in your home, you can make sure that they are taken care of should something happen to you. Not only can you name someone who will care for them, but you can take the financial burden off their shoulders by setting up a trust to pay for the daily expenses.
Source: Telegram News, "Trusts provide safety net for pets," Feb. 10, 2013
Have questions about establishing any kind of revocable or irrevocable trust in Pennsylvania? Our website provides a starting place for answers and access to experienced estate planning attorneys who can help.