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Pet trust may be helpful estate planning tool for pet owners

For many families in Texas, their pets hold a special place in their lives. Unfortunately, these same pets are rarely given a place in their owners' estate plans. Estate planning is critical for ensuring that they receive the care they need after their owners' deaths.

A pet trust is one helpful tool for making sure that a furry friend's care needs will be met in the event that the animal's owner passes away. This is essentially a legal document governed by the laws of the state. Different types of trusts are available, with each trust providing detailed information as well as funding to cover costs.

With a trust, the owner of the pet can name a caregiver to assume custody of the furry friend. A trustee is also chosen to make financial decisions, and successors and alternates are chosen as well. In some cases, a single person is chosen to serve as both the trustee and the caregiver. The trust works by paying out expenses periodically for the animal's ongoing care, including for veterinary costs.

To determine how much funding should be provided to a pet, it can be helpful to multiply the number of years the animal is expected to live by the animal's estimated yearly expenses. Then, a cushion of 50 percent can be added for medical expenses late in life. In addition, beneficiaries of any remaining funds after the animal dies can be named. An estate planning attorney in Texas can help with the process of creating a plan that effectively makes sure that all loved ones, including pets, are appropriately cared for if one were to die.

Source: forbes.com, "Estate Planning: Include Your Pets!", Rob Clarfeld, March 30, 2017

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