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Including pets within estate planning

Many in New Jersey were saddened at the recent death of comedian Joan Rivers, whose entertainment career lasted more than 50 years and touched a great many Americans. The 81-year-old was also a dedicated mother and grandmother, and took the proper estate planning steps to ensure that her estate would pass to those she loved. Rivers also make provisions within her estate for the care of her pets, and many readers may be surprised to learn that doing so is not a practice reserved only for the rich and famous.

At the time of her death, Rivers owned four dogs that lived in two of her residences. According to those close to the entertainer, those pets were treated as beloved family members, and there was no surprise when Rivers included provisions for their care within her larger estate plan. By leaving money within a pet care trust, it is possible to ensure that pets are well cared for, even after the owner's death.

Establishing a pet trust is not as difficult as many imagine. Individuals can set aside funding to cover the cost of pet care, including grooming, veterinarian care and other needs. An individual can be named as the caretaker of one's pets, and will be granted the authority to make decisions for the animals in line with the wishes of the deceased.

While including pets within one's estate planning process may seem to be an unusual choice, it is a decision that makes a great deal of sense to pet owners who deeply care about their animals. It is one thing to ask a loved one to take over the care of one's pets in the event of their death. But by making use of a pet trust, New Jersey residents can also ensure that the person tasked with caring for these animals has the financial resources available to do so.

Source: dailyfinance.com, "What Joan Rivers Just Taught Pet Lovers About Estate Planning", Dan Caplinger, Sept. 11, 2014

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