Estate Planning With Your Pets in Mind

For many people, a pet is a family member or quasi-child. They carefully make arrangements that best suit their pet during travel, but rarely does an owner make permanent, legally-binding plans for their companions if they should die. Promises from a friend or family member may not actually happen if suddenly someone finds out they are allergic to animals or their landlord won’t allow pets. If you are a pet owner it is possible to make secure plans for what will happen to your furry friend if you create a will, pet trust, and pet protection agreement. To begin the process, speak to an Anne Arundel County lawyer who is competent in estate planning.


Wills can create a basic outline of who the pets should go to once their owner dies. One of the major downsides is that a will takes time to be enacted. During this waiting period there is no plan in place for who will care for your beloved pet. The American Bar Association also notes that instructions in a will are not enforceable, so while you can leave a pet to a family member, you cannot leave directions for how you would like to see your pet cared for in the future. Unlike pet trusts and pet protection agreements, there is no way to ensure multiple pets will stay together after their owner has passed away.

Pet Trusts

A pet trust details the care that should legally be given to a pet. It can also establish funds that can be used to take care of the animal after the owner’s death. Another benefit of a pet trust over a will is that it can be used to keep an owner who is declining in health together with their pet, so that they do not get separated during a move to a nursing home or other health facility.

According to the Animal Legal and Historical Center, Maryland instituted its first pet trust law in 2009 and reacted it under a different law in 2015. The idea of a pet trust is still new to the legal system, which is why it is important to have a lawyer who is up to date on the Maryland legal code to help you.

Pet Protections Agreements

A pet protection agreement is a simpler version of a pet trust. The main difference is that it cannot guarantee that a pet will stay with its owner during a decline that sends them to a nursing care facility. These agreements do not require a lawyer to establish but it is prudent to seek advice from a knowledgeable estate attorney.

Call Maryland Estate Planning Attorney Tara K. Frame Today

With all of the care and love you give your pet, you should consider what you can do to provide them with a good quality of life should you pass away. The attorneys at Frame & Frame Law Firm are prepared to help you set up all the required documents needed to ensure your pet’s future is accounted for. Contact one of our compassionate and professional Maryland attorneys at 410-255-0373.