The state of Maryland recognizes pet trusts if they are set up properly. A pet trust is a legal instrument, funded by assets, that specifies how your pet should be cared for should you die or become disabled. In the pet trust you designate a person, “trustee”, to handle the money in the trust according to your instructions for the benefit of your pet(s). You can also designate a separate pet caretaker who actually takes possession of the pets. The trustee and pet caretaker can be separate individuals or the same person.
To fund the trust, you should take into considerationthe life expectancy of the pet, and the amount of money needed to cover food,pet-sitting, veterinary bills and incidentals. You should try to fund the trustas closely to this estimated cost as possible. You want to ensure the caretakerhas what he or she needs to provide for the pet.
If the trust runs out of money, the trustee/caretakermay choose to continue to provide for the pet from their own funds, but theyare under no obligation to do so. It is wise to indicate a ‘care of lastresort’ provision that designates alternative care providers should the trustbecome underfunded and/or the caretaker is no longer willing or able to provideservices.
If the trust is overfunded and there are fundsremaining after the pet dies, you should also designate another beneficiary asthe trust remainderman. You should avoid naming the caretaker as theremainderman beneficiary because it may conflict with their ability to providethe best, and often more expensive, care options.
To include your pets in your estate plan, please contact Stouffer Legal at 443-470-3599 in the Greater Baltimore area.