Legal Blog

The Weekly Scenario: Estate Planning with Pets

Question: How can I be sure my pets are taken care of after I die?

Answer: There are a few options you have in providing for your pets in your estate plan. Your plan to provide for your pets in your estate plan may be informal, such as an agreement with a friend or member of your family, or a formal arrangement such as a trust which provides money and direction for caring for a pet for the remainder of the pet’s lifetime.

Maryland law allows you to provide for your pets in your estate plan through a “Pet Trust”. The trust can be created by Will (or during your lifetime). The Will designates a trustee to own the property to be used to care for your pet. The trust is created for an animal that is living during the lifetime of the person who creates the trust and must terminate at the death of the animal. Moreover, the trustee may only use the funds for the animal’s maintenance and care. At the death of the pet for whom the trust is established, generally the property will be distributed to human beneficiaries or charities.

There are other, less complicated options available to pet owners. Some people leave a bequest to an individual with the hope that they will take on the responsibility of caring for the pet.

Alternatively, some charitable organizations offer programs that agree to care for your pet in exchange for a charitable donation. For example, in exchange for a gift of say, $5,000 or more during your lifetime or in your will, the organization will agree to care for your pet until a home for the pet can be found.


As always, if you have any questions or would like to learn more, please at or 301.575.0313.


Steve Shane Casual Small | 301.575.0313

Steve Shane provides strategic counseling to clients in need of estate administration, charitable giving and business continuity planning while minimizing estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer tax exposure. He offers legal guidance to clients on asset protection and the proper disposition of assets in accordance with the client’s objectives, while employing tax planning techniques such as the use of irrevocable trusts, life insurance planning, lifetime gifts and charitable trust. He is also experienced with drafting documents for business planning, the incorporation and application for exemption for Private Foundations and the administration of decedents’ estates.



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