Those creating estate plans in Maryland often focus on their dependent family members when deciding what to do with their biggest assets. They want to make certain that their children or their spouses will have the resources they need or that certain people inherit property with personal emotional value.
When it comes to those who depend on you, few people will need support from you as much as a companion animal will. Cats and dogs need a human to arrange for their medical care and to provide them with shelter and food.
Should you add your companion animal to your will for their protection?
Pets cannot inherit property
Maryland law does not allow animals to own assets. If you leave property to your pets, those assets will wind up in the control of whoever takes care of your pet. Not only could the people potentially challenge your estate plan because you included your pet as a beneficiary, but they could also euthanize your pet after it inherits from your estate.
Creating a pet trust can give your animal more protection. You can set aside assets for them and name a trustee who doesn’t directly shelter or care for the pet to make sure the people who take your companion animal treat it properly. You will then also retain control over the remaining assets you set aside for the pet after your companion animal dies of natural causes.
Thinking about those who depend on you will help you create the best possible estate plan based on your current circumstances.