A Boutique Trusts & Estates Law Firm

How Pet Trusts can Protect your Animals

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

The ASPCA reports that over 62% of American households have pets today. Animals have increasingly become more important to families. Traditionally, the law recognized animals as property, however legislators have come to recognize that many animals are situated in a modern family between being more than property but not quite human. Pets are often considered a member of the family. So the question becomes: who takes care of the animal when its owner passes away?

On October 1, 2009, Maryland created legally enforceable trusts specifically benefiting animals by providing a broad policy but giving little guidance on how to assure that the wishes of the deceased pet owner are actually followed.

Specificity is key in creating a pet trust. While there are two options, creating a pet trust in a last will and testament or creating a pet trust in a revocable living will, there are several steps in which the creator will want to be as explicit as possible.

First, identify the animal(s). Pictures, microchips, tattoos, detailed descriptions, etc. can be used to specify which animals are included. It may also be helpful to include a provision that will also cover any animals acquired after the trust is created to avoid residual updates.

Next, identify the parties to the trust. Appointing a caregiver requires a great deal of thought. This decision should be made after considering the physical capabilities of an individual and confirming their willingness to care for the animal. A trustee is also necessary. The trustee will manage the funds and should have time to check in on the health and safety of the animal(s). It is a good idea to make the trustee and the caregiver different people as a method of checks and balances.

Now, determine how much money to put in the trust. Many states restrict the amount to “reasonable” or what is actually required to care for the animal throughout its life. Factors to consider are the type of animal, its health history, and the lifestyle the animal is accustomed to living. Again, specificity here is crucial. By identifying specific costs, it shows that the creator has put significant effort into assuring that their animal will be well cared for.

The final step is identifying a remainder beneficiary who will get any money left after the death of the last surviving animal. The remainder beneficiary should not be the caregiver or trustee to avoid any conflicts of interest between the health of the animal and its death. It is not uncommon for a remainder beneficiary to be an animal rescue or advocacy group.

Providing for their care after our death can keep our beloved pets and family members out of a shelter and in loving arms. Just remember to be specific about your wishes and select the best and most willing parties to take care of your animals.

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For Immediate Release

Contact: Jane Frankel Sims

410-828-7775

Contact: Frank Campbell

410-263-1667

Sims & Campbell Estates and Trusts

Frankel Sims Law and Holden & Campbell
Merge to Form Sims & Campbell

Firm will offer comprehensive Trusts & Estates services through offices in Towson and Annapolis

TOWSON, Md. (April 26,2019)  Frankel Sims Law and Holden & Campbell have jointly announced the merger of their firms to create a boutique Trusts & Estates law firm providing comprehensive services in the fields of Estate Planning, Estate Administration, Trust Administration and Charitable Giving. The combined firm will be named Sims & Campbell and have offices in Towson, Md. and Annapolis, Md.  Jane Frankel Sims and Frank Campbell will lead and hold equal ownership stakes in the firm.

Sims & Campbell will have 9 attorneys and 15 legal professionals that handle every facet of estate and wealth transfer planning, including wills, revocable living trusts, irrevocable trusts, estate and gift tax advice, and charitable giving strategies.  The firm will focus solely on Trusts & Estates but will serve a wide range of clients, from young families with modest resources to ultra-high net worth individuals.  This allows clients to remain with the firm as their level of wealth and the complexity of related estate and tax implications change over time. 

“By joining forces, we have expanded our footprint to conveniently serve clients in Maryland, D.C. and Virginia” said Jane Frankel Sims.  We are seeing some of the greatest wealth transfer in our country’s history, and we want to continue to be on the leading edge of helping our clients maintain and enhance their family’s wealth.  In addition, we aim to serve our clients for years to come, and the new firm structure will allow Sims & Campbell to thrive even after Frank and I have retired.”    

“Jane and I have always admired each other’s firms and recognized the need to provide even greater depth and breadth of focused expertise to help families amass and protect their wealth from generation to generation,” said Frank Campbell.  “Now we have even greater capabilities to make a real difference for our clients.” 

The Sims & Campbell Towson office is located at 500 York Road, on the corner of York Road and Pennsylvania Avenue in the heart of Towson.  The Annapolis office is currently located at 716 Melvin Avenue, and is moving to 181 Truman Parkway in August, 2019.  For more information, visit www.simscampbell.law.