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Pet owners use estate plan to provide for beloved animal

Pets are often beloved members of the family, participating in family vacations, posing in holiday portraits and taking their places in the hearts of every member of the household. As owners grow older, however, they may begin to wonder how to ensure the well-being of their animals after the owner's death. In Florida, as in most states, pets cannot inherit money from a deceased owner's estate. This is why many people provide for their pets using their estate plan.

Including a pet in a will is tricky because the law considers pets to be property. One issue that arises when using a will for one's pet it that it does not obligate a designated person to accept the responsibility for the pet, and many pets end up in shelters as a result. Additionally, some wills name specific pets, but their owners fail to update their wills after a pet passes or a new pet joins the family.

A more reliable option is a pet trust, which allows a pet owner to have more control over how the funds are distributed. To create a pet trust, a pet owner must estimate the amount of money needed for the duration of the pet's life, including the costs associated with the end of a pet's life. A trust can also spare an animal the confusion that probate might cause while the court settles the deceased pet owner's estate.

For more information about the benefits of a pet trust, or for guidance concerning the inclusion of a pet's needs in a will, many in Florida seek help from an attorney with experience in many aspects of wills and trusts. An estate planning attorney can offer suggestions for the most effective way to provide long-term care for a pet after an owner passes. Including a pet in one's estate plan may protect the pet from spending its last days in lonely confusion.

Source: wilmingtonbiz.com, "Use a Pet Trust to Ensure Your Pet's Care by Kara Gansmann", Kara Gansmann, March 1, 2018

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