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Caring for pets that outlive you

Planning for the care of pets is among the tasks people include in the estate planning process. To some, it may seem silly, but for others, their animal friends are their world. For those who want their pets are cared for in the event of the death, it really is best to set up a plan rather than leaving it for others to figure out.

Pet trusts are one way people plan for the care of their pets. These trusts can detail not only who will care for the pets and how they will do so, but also set aside the funds necessary to do so. In short, they are good tools for those looking to care for a pet after their own death.

A pet trust will usually say that, in the event of a grantor's disability or death, a named trustee will hold property for the benefit of the grantor's pets. The trust may take effect during the grantor's lifetime or at death. If there is a caregiver specified, payments will be made to them on a regular basis.

Not all states view pet trusts the same way, and not all states even permit them. In states that do permit them, pet trusts often continue for the pet's lifetime or 21 years, whichever comes first. Trusts are generally considered preferable to wills for ensuring a pet is cared for, since instructions in a will may be changed, without a separate agreement for the care of the pet.

For those who cannot guarantee their instructions for the care their pet will be carried out, there are resources walking through other options.

Source: nj.com, "If our pets outlive us, how assure their future?," Fat Summers, February 12, 2012.

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