If you need to leave your pet in the care of a trusted person (for example if you live alone or with someone who’s unable to take care of your pet after your death) then you should designate a person to inherit your animal in your Pennsylvania Will. That person is not required to take on the responsibility, so be sure to discuss your intentions with the intended carer first. You may leave the carer a gift, but you cannot impose conditions that such moneys or property are to be used for the benefit of your pet. This is where the honorary trust comes in.
Pennsylvania has adopted the pet trust provision of the uniform trust code, which enables testators to provide for their animals through a trust. You can leave a bequest of money and/or property in trust and stipulate that they must only be used for the care of the designated animal or animals that you name.
When setting up the trust in your Last Will and Testament, you will need to name a trustee (a person to manage the assets on behalf of your pets). The trustee can be a different person to the beneficiary you nominate to inherit your pet. You can also name a person to enforce the terms of the pet trust on behalf of your animal (this should not be the trustee).
Additionally, you need to stipulate what happens to any remaining funds once the trust terminates (which will occur once the last pet dies).
The pet trust provision is contained in section 7738, title 20 decedents, estates and fiduciaries code. Here is the section:
§ 7738. Trust for care of animal – UTC 408.
(a) Creation and termination.–A trust may be created to
provide for the care of an animal alive during the settlor’s
lifetime. The trust terminates upon the death of the animal or,
if the trust was created to provide for the care of more than
one animal alive during the settlor’s lifetime, upon the death
of the last surviving animal.
(b) Enforcement.–A trust authorized by this section may be
enforced by a person appointed in the trust instrument or, if no
person is so appointed, by a person appointed by the court. A
person having an interest in the welfare of the animal may
request the court to appoint a person to enforce the trust or to
remove a person appointed.
(c) Limitation.–Property of a trust authorized by this
section may be applied only to its intended use, except to the
extent the court determines that the value of the trust property
exceeds the amount required for the intended use. Except as
otherwise provided in the trust instrument, property not
required for the intended use must be distributed to the settlor
if then living, otherwise to the settlor’s successors in
Cross References. Section 7738 is referred to in sections
7710, 7732, 7739 of this title.