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Estate Planning and Pets

When doing estate planning and preparing your Will, you may want to consider your pet.  Who will take care of your pet after you pass away?  Pets are often an important part of the family, or may even be your only family.  If you have no family members or friends who love your cat or dog or other animal the way that you do, you may want to put a "Pet Trust" in your Last Will and Testament or a specific bequest to a "no-kill" shelter.    

A "Pet Trust" allows you to set aside a certain amount of money to take care of your pet, to determine how to spend the money and to indicate what happens to any funds remaining after your pet passes away.  A trust has a Settlor or Grantor, a Trustee and one or more beneficiaries, who will receive benefits from the trust. A trust will also indicate under what circumstances the benefits can be paid out, such as for food, pet toys, and medical care.  You would be the Settlor or Grantor by putting a Pet Trust in your Will.  You would name someone you trust as the Trustee.  A Pet Trust will name your pet as the primary beneficiary and someone or some entity as a contingent beneficiary, such as a family member or the Animal Rescue League. 

Another alternative is to leave your pet and a certain sum of money to a "no-kill" shelter which requires the shelter to care for your pet until the animal passes away. 

No matter how you choose to provide for your pet, it is best to consider your pet when you do estate planning with an elder law attorney.

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