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Setting up a Maryland pet trust

On Behalf of | Jun 16, 2024 | Trusts |

Pet trusts are becoming increasingly common among responsible pet owners who want to ensure that their animals will be safe and well cared for if they can’t be there for them. All states as well as Washington, D.C. now have laws that address pet trusts. 

Under Maryland’s law, a pet trust provides for the care of any animal belonging to the trust’s settlor (the person who sets up the trust) when they die. It continues until the last animal covered by the trust dies. The settlor typically designates a certain amount of money to transfer to the trust when they die that is to be used solely for the care of the animal(s) covered by it. 

The trust terminates when the last animal covered by it passes away. Typically, people designate that any funds remaining in the trust when it terminates are distributed to a specific heir or other beneficiary.

Making the trust specific to your wishes

That’s just a brief outline of the state law. You can and should make the trust instructions more detailed to help ensure that your animal gets the care you intend. For example, you can specify that you want your animal to get all medical treatment that can reasonably be expected to improve or extend their life. 

You’ll want to designate a caregiver (and an alternate) for the animal. They may be the person who can access the funds in the trust, or you can appoint someone else to manage the trust. It’s typically easier if the person who will be caring for the animal is also the person in charge of the trust. It’s crucial to name a caregiver you trust not just with your animals but with the money you’re leaving them. It’s also wise to designate that the caregiver is responsible for finding them a good home if they’re ever unable to keep them.

Determining how much money to fund the trust with can be tricky. You don’t know what animals you’ll have when you pass away or how old they’ll be. It can help to determine how much you spend on each animal annually. By choosing a caregiver who loves your animals almost as much as you, you won’t have to worry about what will happen if the trust doesn’t cover everything.

Setting up a pet trust is relatively simple if you have experienced estate planning guidance. It can help you have peace of mind that your pets will be in good hands if you ever can’t be there for them.