Many Maryland residents have pets that they cherish as beloved family members. Although people often outlive their pets, life is uncertain. A great way to ensure that they will be cared for after you’re gone is to include your pets in your estate plan.
Including pets in your estate plan
By law, you can’t leave money or property to your pets. Pets are also considered property in Maryland, which explains why this is the case. However, there are options for including your pets in your estate plan that can keep them protected in the event of your death. You can leave your pets with a trusted person to care for them or even with an organization that cares for pets after their owners pass away.
You can include a provision for your pet in your will. While you can’t leave anything to them, you can name a person close to you as the new owner of your pet after you’re gone. It’s wise to discuss this potential arrangement with the person you’re considering as your pet’s future guardian.
Another option for making arrangements for your pet is to create a pet trust. Although this is a pricier option, it’s also stronger and more likely to be effectively carried out. With a trust left for your pet, you can include funding and name a trusted person to care for your pet. You can ensure that the person upholds their obligation and include a provision that states the individual may be sued if they fail to follow your instructions.
Forgetting to plan for your pets
If you don’t include your pet in your estate plan or make an informal arrangement with someone you trust to take your pet upon your death, there’s no guarantee of what happens. The court could order a specific beneficiary to take your pet. Without an estate plan at all, things are even more uncertain as the state distributes your estate. Since pets are considered property, this includes them.
Planning for your pet’s future by including them in your estate plan can give you peace of mind that they’ll be in good hands.