Author: Denise A. Martin
Many of us have pets that are beloved family members, and as responsible pet owners, it makes sense to plan for the possibility that your pet(s) will survive you. Estate planning documents, such as your will or a trust, enable you to set aside money for your pet’s care after your death, as well as to appoint a caretaker for the pet. In recent years, Maryland legislators established a Pet Trust Statute, MD. CODE ANN., EST. & TRUSTS, § 14-112. This statute enables you to include a pet trust provision within your will or a separate trust document to provide for the care of your pets, and this provision is enforceable by the individual you appoint as the pet(s)’ caretaker. Your pet trust can provide for the care of multiple animals, as long as those animals were alive during your lifetime.
A pet trust must terminate upon the death of the last animal beneficiary of the trust, and any remaining assets will be distributed to the individuals or entities designated in the pet trust. If no such designation is made, the assets will be distributed to the residuary legatees under the owner’s will, or, if there is no will, to the owner’s heirs at law.