Pennsylvania Pet Trust Lawyer

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Pets bring so much joy into our lives. They are endlessly selfless and always there when we need to be cheered up. The furry and non-furry animal friends that live in our houses make us cry and laugh, and they help us remember what the important things are in life. Without them, it’s safe to say that our lives would be incomplete. The animals that live in our homes are considered more than just pets; they are family members. Therefore, it’s critical to ensure that they are taken care of if we pass on before they do.

A Pennsylvania animal trust and estate planning attorney can help you design a legal plan that can ensure the safety and care of your pets in the case of your passing. To protect your furry friends, you can establish trusts especially designed for them, which can help delegate your resources to their benefit. A dedicated Pennsylvania pet trust lawyer from our team can help you optimize the PA estate planning process to the benefit of your beloved pets.

At The Animal Law Firm, our pet trust lawyers can help you adequately plan to make sure that your pets’ needs can be adequately met so that they can live a safe and comfortable life, no matter what happens. They have the skill to draft meticulous legal documents to enshrine your wishes into practice. In addition to that, our lawyers have the compassion and understanding that clients need to feel secure and comfortable when working to find solutions related to this sensitive and emotional topic.

What Is a Pet Trust?

To understand the essentials of creating an estate plan that considers the needs of your pet, it’s critical to know what a pet trust is. A pet trust is essentially an arrangement under the law that makes sure a pet is cared for if the owner is no longer able to make decisions or has passed away. Under a pet trust, you can be sure that your pet can continue to be fed, walked, taken to the veterinarian, and receive any other care that they require, even after you are gone.

Pet Trusts Explained: Understanding the Details

Should you choose to set up trust funds for your pet, you will be considered the settlor or grantor. The trustee will be in charge of managing the trust money to cover expenses for your pet. They will also arrange and coordinate ongoing care schemes. Your trustee can be a person who you know and trust, a paid professional, or even an animal organization that is experienced with such practices.

In your pet trust, you will also be required to identify who the guardian or caregiver will be for your pet. This is the individual who will be personally interacting with your pet and taking care of them daily. You will want to be sure that you trust this person to reliably be there for your pet and ensure their care.

It is critical to transfer money into the pet trust, as it will be used to fund your pet after your passing. You can also have instructions written in your will and/or other legal documents that lay out the conditions of how the money will be transferred to the pet trust.

An experienced pet trust lawyer can help you write out comprehensive care instructions that can include information about:

  • What the pet eats
  • How many times they should go to the vet for regular medical checkups
  • Any medical conditions they have
  • How often and in what way they should be groomed
  • Any additional special needs they may have.

To ensure that your wishes will be carried out, your care instructions should be detailed and specific.

It’s important to understand that the pet trust will last until every pet who is benefitting from the trust has passed away. This means that the trust will last for their lifetime.

Pet Trust Administration and Termination

Remember that the trustee of the pet trust is not the beneficiary of the funds in the trust; your pet is. The trustee is in charge of administering the funds by transferring the money to relevant accounts so that it can be used to pay for expenses related to your pet. The trustee is also required to be deeply aware of the care instructions you leave and loyally carry them out.

After the last pet who was benefiting from your pet trust passes away, the pet trust will need to be terminated. This means that any remaining funds must be moved to another location so that the trust can be closed. Any remaining funds can be sent to a person or organization of your choice.

How Do I Establish an Animal Trust in Pennsylvania?

With the assistance of an experienced pet trust lawyer, setting up a pet trust can be a relatively straightforward process. However, depending on the number of pets you have and their specific needs, these cases can vary in complexity.

It’s important to look for a lawyer who can help you optimize your asset protection strategies. That way, you can minimize estate tax and other penalties while ensuring that your pets are the main beneficiary of your funds left behind. Generally, setting up a pet trust involves the following steps:

  • Decide whether you want a testamentary or living trust. You will first need to determine what kind of trust you want and need. A living trust can be managed while you are still alive, while a testamentary trust will be activated according to your will upon your passing.
  • Select who your beneficiaries will be. In your will, you will need to specify which animals will get to benefit from the trust funds. This will need to include details such as their name, the type of species they are, what they look like, and other significant characteristics.
  • Identify the trustee. You will be required to choose a person or organization to manage the assets in your trust and oversee the responsibility of caring for your pet(s). You will want to pick a person or organization that you can rely on and trust.
  • Identify a successor trustee. It can be beneficial to have an additional trustee who can step in if your initial trustee passes away or is no longer able to carry out their duties.
  • Identify the guardian or caregiver. This is a person who will be taking care of your pets every day. They will feed, walk, groom, and ensure the health of your pets in your absence.
  • Communicate with all involved parties. You should make sure that your trustee, successor trustee, guardian, and any other involved parties are aware of the trust and its contents. Make sure they all have a copy and let them know whenever you make updates.
  • Lay out the care instructions. In your care instructions, you will need to detail all the specifics for taking care of your pet after your passing. Consider this document to be a large-scale information transfer. You will need to provide information about your pet’s diet, health needs, exercise regimen, and other critical details.
  • Compose the document that details the trust conditions. An experienced pet trust attorney can help you lay out the basis of your trust. This legal document must comply with Pennsylvania standards.
  • Figure out how you will put money into the pet trust. Depending on whether you want to fund your trust during or after your lifetime, you will need to make plans for how you will transfer the money.
  • Notarize the trust. You will need to sign off on the finalized trust document. You must then get it signed in front of a Pennsylvania notary public according to state law.
  • Go over the trust document periodically. It is important to keep revising the pet trust document as conditions change, such as the number of pets you have and their associated needs. For this reason, it is recommended that you review and update the document on a regular basis, such as every 6 months.

A well-rounded Pennsylvania pet trust attorney can help ensure that your documents are adequately detailed and in accordance with local laws. By working with an attorney, you can be sure that your pets can be protected and cared for in the case of your passing.

Make a Plan Today: Establish Your Pet’s Future

Creating a care plan and legal framework to ensure the well-being and happiness of your pet if you pass away can result in peace of mind. However, to do so, it is critical that you work with a compassionate lawyer who is deeply experienced in this niche, yet critical area of law.

At The Animal Law Firm, one of our pet trust lawyers can help you create the contingency plan that your pet deserves. After so much they give to our lives, it’s important to ensure that they are taken care of, no matter what the circumstances. Contact us today to get started.



We know how important your furry family member is to you. Whether they have no legs, two legs, or four or more legs, our priority is making sure you and your pet receive the best representation possible.

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