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Beloved pets can be taken care of through proper estate planning

With May being National Pet Month, New Jersey pet lovers may want to consider what will happen to their beloved four-legged companions when they are no longer capable of care for it. While many people are aware that proper estate planning is a way to protect their assets and care for their loved ones, not everybody realizes that a pet can also be part of that planning. By crafting a customized trust, a pet can be just as well taken care of as one's children who are left behind.

A pet owner should carefully consider whom he or she wants to appoint as the trustee of the pet's trust. A typical choice would be a spouse or child who already has a fondness of the pet. This person can be a different one from the trustee appointed to manage the entire trust. It may also be a good idea to decide on a second party as backup in the event one's first choice is unable to take on this task.

When deciding the amount of money allocated to the pet's future care, the individual will have to consider the general health of the pet and anticipate potential major veterinary expenses. Add to that the annual expense for boarding, training, regular veterinary care and food and estimate the amount of final expenses in the event of the pet's death. The pet owner may want to include instructions on how excess funds should be distributed upon the death of the pet. This is a personal choice, but one option is to stipulate that the caregiver should keep the remainder of the funds. Another option may be to leave the leftover funds to a charitable animal welfare organization.

It may be a good idea to discuss the details of the pet trust with the chosen trustee to ensure the individual is willing and able to take proper care of the pet. New Jersey residents may find that, once proper estate planning -- including a will and any necessary trusts -- is taken care of, peace of mind can be obtained. Guidance related to the legalities of these documents is readily available to ensure that all one's loved ones, including pets, will be taken care of.

Source: timesdispatch.com, "Should you leave your pet $10 million?", Paula Peaden, May 8, 2014

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