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Making Plans For Beloved Pets

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The family pet holds a place close to our hearts and many want to ensure that the pet is looked after when they pass away. Those making estate plans have several options that will provide for their pets. Read on and find out more about wills and pet trusts.

Using a Will to Cover Your Pet

Some people make the mistake of leaving funds to their pet so that someone will be able to care for them.  Unfortunately, a pet is considered property when mentioned in a will and you cannot leave property like cash to a pet. What you can do, however, is leave your pet to a trusted person and leave that person funds to take care of your pet.

If you intend to use a will, though, you should know that you cannot place a provision in the will that directs the person to use the funds specifically for your pet. That means you should trust that the person will do as you wish with the money. Another issue with using a will to take care of a pet is that probate takes months to be over. Whoever you appoint will have to wait for the funds if you go that route.

Lastly, you may also want to consider what could happen if you become incapacitated and are no longer able to care for your pet. Provisions in a will won't cover incapacity at all. You should also consider naming a backup person in case something happens to your first choice in pet caregiver.

Using a Trust to Cover Your Pet

Trusts are a great tool to use when planning estates, whether you have a pet or not. A trust bypasses probate and has more flexibility than a will. Trusts must be funded, however, before the owner passes away. Trusts can contain cash, investments, bank accounts, property, and more. A trust can do everything a will can do but more efficiently and faster.

Pet trusts are a type of trust created specifically for your pet. They are legal documents that should be kept where you keep your other important papers. Use a pet trust to:

  • Name a person to care for your pet (along with a back-up person).
  • Ensure that the funds to care for your pet are disbursed according to your directions by the trustee.
  • Can come into effect if the owner becomes incapacitated and cannot care for their pet.
  • Can specify more than a single person to care for a pet in certain circumstances. For example, the pet trust could indicate that a trusted grandson will care for your dog if you are hospitalized.
  • Indicate how the funds are to be used once the pet passes away.

Speak to an estate lawyer to find out more.