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Trusts can be used to ensure pet care after the owner's death

The primary concern for New York people who have estate plans in place is likely their loved ones and family members. Some draft only wills, others create trusts. One part of the family that many people forget to include in their plans is their pets, even though they are usually considered members of their families. It can be a mistake to assume that surviving family members will take care of beloved pets after the owner's death.

The best strategy may be for the pet owner to discuss the matter with family members to identify the person who will be prepared to care for the pet after the owner's death. A clause can then be added to a will to specify the designated care provider, with a specified amount of money for that purpose. However, money cannot be left to the pet; rather, it has to be included in an inheritance for the designated person.

The problem is that a will does not provide for the possibility that the testator could become incapacitated and thus unable to provide further care for the pet. The solution to that problem is establishing a trust for the pet. A trust allows the person to specify how the money allocated to the trust is to be used to care for the pet. 

While many New York residents may prefer to avoid talking about death and incapacity, it may be best to get the necessary estate planning done to ensure assets go to those for whom they are intended -- including beloved pets. This can be easily accomplished with the help of an experienced estate planning attorney who can explain the legalities related to wills and trusts. Once accomplished, it will only be necessary to review the plans at regular intervals to ensure they keep up with life changes such as new births, divorces and more.

Source: Memphis Daily News, "Pets in Your Estate Plan", Ray Brandon, Dana Brandon, Dec. 22, 2017

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