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Phone: 201-345-3018

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Creating a simple estate plan for your pet

The bulk of estate planning efforts are rightfully focused on passing down accumulated wealth to one's chosen heirs. For many in New Jersey, a different type of relationship is often overlooked when considering these matters. Pet owners very often forget to create a plan for the care of their beloved animals, which can leave a favorite dog or cat in serious trouble if the owner passes away. Fortunately, it is possible to create a simple estate plan addition that can help ensure that pets are cared for in the event of the owner's death.

When thinking about estate planning for pets, many people think of the outrageous cases that make the news every few years. From time to time, a case will arise in which an individual leaves all of his or her wealth to a cat or dog and cuts children and grandchildren out of an inheritance. These cases can make it seem as though providing for a pet is a frivolous matter, but in reality, a small volume of effort can make a world of difference in providing care for a beloved animal.

It is possible to structure a trust for the purpose of setting aside funds for pet care. This can be a good option for a pet that has expensive care needs, such as a purebred dog or a large animal such as a horse. However, estate planning for pets is often a far simpler endeavor.

The process should begin by identifying one or more individuals who are able and willing to take care of the pet when the time comes. It is important to sit down and discuss the matter in depth, especially if the person is not familiar with the pet. Next, pet owners should take the time to compile a list of documents that can help the designated caregiver understand the pet's needs and temperament. This includes a comprehensive list of any medications, a history of any surgical procedures and a basic background of veterinary care visits.

When creating one's estate planning package, it is easy to include a simple estate plan to address the needs of a pet. Clearly outlining the needs and characteristics of one's pet are the cornerstones of that process. By implementing the suggestions outlined above, New Jersey pet owners can rest assured that their beloved animals are cared for if that need should arise. 

Source: care2.com, "Does Your Pet Have an Estate Plan?", July 1, 2015

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