When it comes time to plan for your loved ones after you pass, it’s important to take a comprehensive approach to ensure that every facet of your estate is covered. Wills and living trusts can prove to be effective tools for this complex task, but each has its own pitfalls in one form or another. If you are concerned about the welfare of your pets after you die, it’s important to learn about the intricacies of estate law and what it can mean for your furry family members. One way to optimize the outcome of your plan is to hire qualified experts who know the ins and outs of this complicated process. JDKatz is your source for experienced estate lawyers in Maryland. We deliver comprehensive support for each of our clients based on their unique needs.
Unfortunately, your pets are viewed as property, and as such, they are afforded little assistance when it comes to guaranteeing the proper care they deserve. Today, we’ll highlight several documents that should prove helpful when developing a quality care plan. When you’re finished, be sure to reach out to our estate planning attorneys in Bethesda for assistance!
Beyond your will, a pet trust is here to serve as a comprehensive source for how to properly handle the needs of your furry companions. A pet trust is a document that provides instructions for the ongoing care of one (or more) companion animals in the event that you perish or become incapacitated. A few advantages of a pet trust include:
- You can control the disbursement of funds. Whereas you were only able to disburse an initial amount for the care of your animals with a will, a pet trust enables you to decide when and how to allocate funding.
- Pet trusts are valid before and after death. This point is essential when considering how your pet will be cared for in the event you are incapacitated. Wills are enacted upon death, but this approach can help provide guidance in case of any unforeseen medical complications.
- You can add incapacity provisions to your pet trust. In addition to care for your pet, you can also include provisions to keep your pet by your side when you cannot care for yourself. Facilities such as nursing homes may require this statement to keep your pet close by at all times.
- Pet trusts also provide future protection. Estate planning for those who expect future contests from family members, such as questioning your mental state when leaving a lot of money for your cat, can be made more difficult with a pet trust. The last thing you want is for your pet’s care to be overturned by an unhappy relative!
- You can appoint a trustee for investment purposes. A trustee is the individual entrusted with caring for your estate, holding the finances to distribute for your pets accordingly. One interesting approach that may help to provide long-term assistance is appointing a trustee for investing. This individual can work to grow your investments for additional principal to care for your pets.
- Long-lasting coverage. In most states, your pet trust will last for the life of your pets or 21 years, whichever comes first. Some laws allow for extensions on this, which can be very helpful for grantors with long-living pets.
The State of Maryland enacted its first pet trust law in 2009. Improvements were added when it was redacted under another law in 2015. Pet trusts are relatively new, making it vital for you to find a professional who stays up to date on the laws.
Pet Protection Agreements
People who want to care for their pets without the complexities and costs of a legal trust can opt instead for a pet protection agreement. Essentially, you are creating a written agreement between you and at least one other party that outlines the scope of care for your pet if you die. This document can be much simpler than a full pet trust, but there are drawbacks. One primary concern is that a pet agreement cannot guarantee that your pet will stay with you if you are send to a long-term care facility.
The advantage of this approach is that pet protection agreements allow for nearly unlimited options when it comes to designating your instructions. Decisions such as medical service providers, trust protectors, and the guardian of your pet can all be covered by this agreement. One avenue that gives many people peace of mind is determining what to do with your pet in case you and your pet’s guardians are unable to care for them in the future. Not only do your animals need a safe and secure place to live, they need long-term protection for the future.
Pet protection agreements do not require a lawyer to be enacted, but we strongly recommended you seek out professional assistance to ensure an optimal outcome. Our estate planning attorneys in Bethesda are here to help you every step of the way through this complex process. You can rely on our experience and high level of service to create the best plan for you, your family, and your estate. Contact our estate lawyers in Maryland or Washington D.C. today to learn more about estate law for your pets!