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Estate planning considerations for pet owners

 

For many pet owners, dogs, cats, and other domestic pets are more than just animals; they are part of the family, bringing untold joy and companionship every single day.

People of all ages utilize a wide range of estate planning documents to protect their loves ones after they pass on. So too can pet owners. To many, family pets are loved ones. Why not create a plan to protect them?

 

Making decisions

Before getting anything down in writing, pet owners should consider the who, what, when and where regarding their pets.

Below are two common issues pet owners should consider.

1. Naming a guardian 

To protect against the unexpected, parents with young children often name a guardian they wish to take care of their kids if they no longer can. Pet owners can do the same and are encouraged to think about a family member or close friend who is capable and willing to take care of their pets if anything should happen. 

2. Financial arrangements 

Between food, treats, toys and visits to the veterinarian—the care of a pet can be expensive. While no price is too high for our own pets, for some, the expense may be a burden. Pet owners should consider the true cost of caring for their pets and allocate the funds necessary to cover these expenses in the event another individual takes over as the caregiver in the future. 

Help from an estate planning attorney 

Both of the above are valuable considerations. Once a decision has been made as to each, pet owners should reach out to a knowledgeable estate planning attorney in their area who can offer guidance on next steps and the best estate planning tool to use. 

Consider a pet trust 

One effective estate planning tool pet owners may want to consider is a pet trust. In general, a trust allows a person to set aside money in trust for a named pet. The money will then be used for the care and maintenance of the pet when the pet owner passes away. 

The trust names a designated trustee who will be responsible for administering the duties outlined in the trust document. Food, exercise, medical arrangementsamong many other stipulationsis often included in a pet trust.

Like all estate plans, peace of mind is the ultimate goal. Knowing your family pet will be taken care of when you pass away is invaluable. Dont wait. Make a plan today.

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