Jennifer C. Rydberg, Attorney at Law
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You can plan for pets in an estate plan

Many Kent area residents have pets. Dogs, cats, birds and other animals are valuable members of our families. Those who have pets may want to consider what would happen to them after they pass away. Using an estate plan to include care for pets is a good way to protect them.

A pet trust can be created to protect animals in the event of a pet owner's incapacity or death. Hundreds of thousands of animals are placed in shelters each year because their owner passes away. A pet trust is a legal document which ensures the pet will receive the care the owner would want. A pet trust contains a trustee, who is in charge of handling the finances, the caretaker for the trust, the pets and who the remainder beneficiary should be. A pet trust needs to have property attached to it so that it is funded for the life of the pet. The remainder beneficiary is who will receive the rest of the property when the pet dies. A pet trust should contain enough money to cover the cost of care for the animal. It is important to know how long a pet is expected to live, as some can live decades, and make sure there is enough money for food and veterinary bills.

Estate planning is a wonderful way for a family to gain peace of mind. Knowing what would happen to a person's assets, their pets or their children if they pass away can be comforting. A legal professional who is skilled in estate planning can help their client create an estate plan that works for their unique family situation. They can listen and suggest various estate planning options for their clients and make sure their clients' needs are met, both now and for future generations.

Estate planning is not just about transferring assets to the next generation. It can be used to protect a person's medical wishes, care for children and pets and assist with charitable giving, among many other uses. Estate planning can offer people peace of mind that their wishes will be honored when they are no longer able to communicate them.

Source: fontanaheraldnews.com, "Attorney reveals how to include care for your pets in your estate plan", Shel Segal, Dec. 8, 2017

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