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Protecting your pooch at the end of your life: Pet trusts

Pets become like family. They're animals, but they give people their love and attention. Many people are truly indebted to their pets and love them as if they were their own children.

If you love your pet and want to make sure that it has a good life if you can no longer take care of it, it's a good idea to consider drawing up a pet trust. A pet trust protects your pet so it can live a healthy, safe life. Learn what you need to do to protect your beloved pets once you are gone.

1. Include information on your pet's care

The first thing you'll want to do is to write down information about your pet. Include its description, approximate age or birth date and other features that could help the court identify the animal. Next, include information on what you want the guardian to do for your pet. Include veterinarian information along with the care you want your pet to receive, like annual checkups. Note its feeding schedules, the type of food your it prefers to eat, how often it needs to be taken for walks and other important and helpful information.

2. Include funds and assets for your pet

You can include funds and assets for your pet. For example, if you expect your pet to live to 15 and it's 5 years old now, you might include $10,000 for medical care or a health plan, food, bedding and other things your pet needs. You can also indicate which assets belong with your pet, like pet beds, clothing or food items in your possession.

3. Discuss your pet's care with the approved guardian early on and plan for backups

Things change over time, and the person you originally wanted to have take over the care of your pet may no longer be able to do so. It's a good idea to have multiple potential guardians listed for your pet, so you know that if one cannot take on the care of your pet, another can. You should speak with each person who is willing to care for your pet about the requirements you have and what needs they have. For example, the guardian may be happier to take on your pet if you include a sum of money for doing so. You can link the money to the care that's provided, which also helps guarantee your pet's care. For example, after each six-month checkup, the guardian could receive $300. This would encourage the guardian to keep up on the pet's health care appointments.

These are a few things to include in a pet trust. Your pet is important, and taking steps to protect him or her now can make the future easier.

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