Can I Provide For a Pet in My Estate Plan?
Understanding the Massachusetts Pet Trust
For many people, animals are full family members. But before 2011, there was not a mechanism under Massachusetts law to provide for the care of an animal, other than relying on friends and family. In 2011, the Massachusetts legislature enacted many changes to the probate code, including a provision allowing trusts for the benefit of an animal or animals. Though commonly called a "pet trust," this law has estate planing implications for other animals, like farm animals or horses, as well.
A Pet trust allows you to identify a trustee as well as caretaker for the animal. The caretaker is responsible for the actual care of the animal, pursuant to whatever instructions you leave. The trustee is responsible for administering any funds you leave for this purpose, and ensuring they are used for the proper purposes.
Just like a trust for a human, you will have to decide what happens to any remaining assets once the pet or pets are no longer living. You may want any remaining funds to go back to your human heirs, or you may have a charitable organization you want them to go to. Whatever you wish, you can specify that in the trust document as well.
Learn more here about Massachusetts Pet Trusts.
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