Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

In Planning Your Estate, Don't Forget about the Pets They Can Be Cared for in Innovative Ways

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

In Planning Your Estate, Don't Forget about the Pets They Can Be Cared for in Innovative Ways

Article excerpt

When you die, who will take care of your pets?

There are innovative ways to provide for your pet: through your will, estate plan, or even prepaid aftercare at your local shelter.

"If someone elderly ends up in a nursing home, their dog or cat often goes to a shelter and hasn't been provided for," says Marianna Schenk, a Bala Cynwyd estate lawyer.

"A lot of people just die without a will. Whoever settles their affairs may not want the animals. That's very sad. It's better to make a provision in your estate for your pets.

"Friends or children may not want your dogs - even though they may want everything else."

To address the need, the Pennsylvania SPCA set up a new program in January called Guardian Surrender. "We hope the Guardian Surrender program will ease your mind," says Patricia Mecca, director of planned giving at the PSPCA.

The program is available to anyone who sets up a planned gift such as a bequest or trust that benefits the PSPCA.

Under the provisions of Guardian Surrender, the no-kill shelter takes care of pets, then finds them new homes. Currently, the program is available only for dogs and cats, with a limit of two pets per person.

Donations can range from $2,000 to $3,000 to up to hundreds of thousands. There is no set dollar amount, but the cost to maintain one animal for one year is $600.

Agreements and trusts

A "pet protection agreement" can be completed with or without a lawyer. Such agreements are valid both during the pet owner's lifetime as well as after death. Legal Zoom has them for $39 online.

Some pet owners with substantial assets have set up pre-funded trusts.

Formal pet trusts are not as common, but they do exist. Both Pennsylvania (20 Pa.C.S.A. Section 7738) and New Jersey (Section 3B:11-38 Trust funds for pets) have statutes providing for care of animals. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.