Many Maryland pet owners know that pets are family. However, a recent survey by the ASPCA reveals that the vast majority of pet owners have not taken any steps to ensure for their pet's care following their death. Only 17 percent of dog and cat owners had set up a plan that provided for their pets after the owner became unable to care for them.
It is common for pet owners to believe their heirs and beneficiaries or a friend will take pets and care for them. When people take it for granted that a loved one will assist with their pets, the animals frequently wind up at shelters when those plans do not come to fruition.
A Pet Protection Agreement may help provide for continuing care for animals following the death of their owners. Some states also allow pet owners to set up trust agreements for the benefit of a pet. When a pet has long-term health care needs, a pet trust may be appropriate. The trust can address not only what happens following death, but can ensure that the pet is cared for should the owner become incapacitated and can provide funds to the new caretaker. The trust can even dictate terms such as the type of food to be provided or when the pet should receive medical care. Any monies left following the pet's death can be distributed according to the terms of the trust.
Any pet owner who is concerned with caring for pets following death may benefit from speaking with an estate law attorney. An attorney may be able to help determine whether a stand-alone pet trust is sufficient. An attorney may also be able to draft the paperwork to establish care for the pet.