Berman & Asbel, LLP

In 38 states, you can set aside money for your pet - even after you are gone

Perhaps you know the old expression, "It's a dog's life" but it may be that no dog ever made out better than a Maltese named Trouble, the beloved pet of the late, though not necessarily so beloved, Leona Helmsley.  When Mrs. Helmsley died in 2007, she left $12 million for Trouble in her will.  It was the largest single gift in Mrs. Helmsley's will.

Well, you don't have to be a multi-millionaire to leave a legacy for the care of your beloved pet.  In fact, 38 states plus the District of Columbia have statutes on the books specifically authorizing creation of trusts for the purpose of caring for pets.  The Pennsylvania pet trust statute allows trusts for one or more animals that was alive during the lifetime of the settlor (person creating the trust).  The trust ends upon the death of the last of the animals for which the trust was created.

Now is this a good idea for every pet owner who wants to make sure that Rover or Fido is well cared for?  Not necessarily.  While a trust can provide a legal mechanism to direct funds to the care of a pet, there are costs involved as well.  Trusts are separate legal entities and can be subject to the need to file taxes and other forms plus the expenses of meeting those requirements.  It may be easier and less expensive to simply find someone you really trust to care for your beloved pet and leave that person a gift in your will for the stated purpose of covering the costs of caring for the pet.

Readers should not solely rely on this note but should consult with a competent attorney licensed in their state. You can also find more information in my firm's websites on Family Law and Wills and Estate Planning and Administration. 

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