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Can estate planning address care for pets?

Texans will undoubtedly want to ensure their loved ones are cared for after they are gone and they do so by formulating a comprehensive estate plan. An aspect of an estate plan that is often important to pet owners is how the pet will be cared for. Increasingly, people are taking legal steps to make certain the pet will not be abandoned, ignored or worse after the owner's death. There are important issues to remember with pets and people can put in writing how the pet will be handled.

The owner should select a caregiver. It is not simply a matter of picking a person and believing the pet will be safe. It should be a person who expresses willingness, has the ability and shows responsibility for an extended period that is often the pet's lifespan. This is especially true if the pet needs specific care. It is also smart to have a second caregiver in case something happens with the original choice. Money will be an inevitable issue. Pets can be costly and the needs for its entire life must be calculated. There are ways to save the funds. There can be a bank account that the executor or guardian will control. A trust can have provisions to make sure the pet is cared for.

Having a written list of instructions to care for the pet can simplify the process of how to provide care such as what the pet eats, what to do if the family takes a vacation, veterinary preferences and any other matter that comes up. There should be a formal agreement that the wishes will be adhered to. Pet trusts are available across the nation and can have the necessary instructions. The pet can be addressed in a will, but there should be someone to care for the pet in the interim as the will is executed. There can also be an agreement between the owner and a person or an entity to take care of the pet.

A pet can be just as important to a person as any other part of their estate. It is a frequent concern what can be done to ensure the pet is taken care of after a person dies. Fortunately, there are ways to make this a reality. A legal professional who is experienced in all aspects of estate planning - including those that seem unusual - can be of help.

Source: marketwatch.com, "How to provide for your pet in your estate plan," Cheryl Winokur Munk, Nov. 30, 2017

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