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Estate planning for pet owners

California animal lovers may be interested in an article discussing arrangements to care for a pet after the owner dies. Through the use of trusts and other estate planning documents, this can be taken care of in advance.

Generally, arrangements for pet care when a person is incapacitated or dies can be either informal or structured. An informal agreement is important in order for a pet to get temporary care when the owner is unavailable. Two people who the pet owner trusts should be recruited to provide for the pet during these times. They need to be given access to the home and written pet care instructions. They should also be provided with veterinarian information and told about the more permanent solution for care of the pet.

Formal pet care arrangements are a way to have a more permanent solution. While some deal with this in their will, a pet trust may be a better way to go. The trustee can use the funds placed in the trust in order to pay another to take responsibility for the pet. Depending on the jurisdiction, a pet trust could potentially last for as long as the pet lives. The trust should include specific instructions on caring for the pet and any health issues it may have. Another possibility is a power of attorney giving a trusted person the authority to care for the pet in the event of the owner's incapacity.

Proper and complete estate planning can encompass far more than the drafting of a simple will. An attorney with experience in this practice area can provide advice on what documents may be suitable for the protection and preservation of a client's assets and possessions.

Source: Everyday Health, "Pet Power of Attorney: Make Plans for Rover Before You’re Covered in Clover", Lynda Shrager, April 15, 2014

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