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Estate Planning for Your Pets

elderly couple with their pet

Most people who own pets consider them part of the family. While they may not factor into your estate planning, they should, in order to ensure they’re being taken care of properly. Of course, you can’t leave property to your pets, as they’re not capable of owning it. However, there are other things you can do to make sure they’re happy and living the good life after you’re gone. Your estate plan can ensure that your pets go to a caring person, and that the person has the resources to take care of them.

There are a number of options for including your pets into your estate plan. The first step in making these arrangements is finding a person or an organization that you trust. No matter which option you choose, have a candid conversation with your pet’s potential caretaker about how to care for your pet and how expenses will be met.

Pets in a Will

As mentioned, pets cannot be part of a will. But you can designate who they will go to. The person won’t be obligated to use the money for the pet’s expenses, but if you truly trust the caretaker you’ve chosen, it shouldn’t be much of an issue.

Trusts

With a pet trust you can leave your pet, money, and a legal obligation to care for your pet. If the caretaker fails to follow your instructions, he or she can be sued. Your trust document should lay out several things, including the name of a caretaker, the amount of money to be used for pet care, a description of how the pet should be cared for, the name of a person to go to court and enforce the terms of the trust if necessary, instructions on what should be done with any money that’s left over when the animal dies, and a description of how your pet should be cared for if you can’t take care of him or her before your death.

There are certain advantages to creating a trust for your pet. First, it creates a legal requirement to care for your pet. Second, it provides accountability for the money you leave for the care of your pet. Third, it allows you to set-up care should you become incapacitated.

If you are unable to find someone to care for your pet after your death, you can designate an organization, like the SPCA, to take care of them. Programs exist across the country that allow you to leave your pet to a trustworthy caretaker after you die. These also include veterinary schools and animal sanctuaries.

Call and Estate Planning Lawyer

If you are considering including pets in your estate plan, an experienced estate planning attorney will be able to help you through the process. Call The Mattar Firm today to ensure you and your furry loved one are protected. 239-222-2222 or 844-444-4444.

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