Pet Planning as an Integral Part of Estate Planning
To pet lovers, the fact pet planning as part of estate planning has now become commonplace, is a
“What took you so long?” In recognition that our pets are beloved members of our families,
animal advocates, the Massachusetts state legislature, and estate planning attorneys have brought
pet planning to the forefront of many estate planning discussions.
Maggie is a 45 year old married corporate attorney. She and her husband, Bob, have two large
shaggy dogs that they recently adopted from a local shelter. Maggie telephoned our estate
planning office to ask about updating their estate plan to include the dogs.
We explained that Maggie and Bob had two choices regarding planning for their pets: A
statutory pet trust or a traditional pet trust. Massachusetts has statutory pet trust provisions
which mean that the statute (i.e. written law) fills in the blanks and defines the terms of the pet
trust if they’re not provided by the trust maker. Conversely, traditional pet trusts are used to
customize the pet trust to the estate planners wishes.
Maggie and Bob decided to go forward with the traditional pet trust. They selected a trustee and
back up trustee, after obtaining permission from both. They also selected a caretaker and a back
up caretaker, again, after obtaining permission from both.
They then selected a sum of money (they chose $25,000) that will flow into the pet trust should
they both die. The money will be used to pay for all of the dog’s needs and to pay the caretaker
They outlined instructions for the care of their dogs, including favorite toys, walks, and games.
They included vet information and a list of dog sitters. Neither of the dogs currently has any
medical conditions, but this information, if it existed, would be provided to the caretaker as well.
Now, Maggie and Bob can sleep better at night, knowing that if something happens to them, their
beloved shaggy dogs will be cared for. They’re grateful that we, estate planning attorneys, have
now recognized the importance of pets and pet planning in estate planning.
Experienced estate planning attorneys Worcester MA of the Law Offices of James A. Miller
estate planning and business planning resources to residents of Worcester MA. To learn more
about these free resources, please visit www.worcester-estate-planning.com / today.