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Trusts or wills -- which are best to ensure proper care for pets?

For many New York families, their pets are like children. When they consider estate planning, they naturally include their beloved pets in those plans to ensure proper care. Are wills the most appropriate way to address these issues, or should they establish pet trusts instead?

When a pet owner chooses to use a will for this purpose, the animal will be regarded as an asset, which is left to a beneficiary in the same way as a piece of art or jewelry. A trusted caretaker will be the beneficiary, and an amount of money can form part of the bequest. However, the will cannot dictate how the funds should be used. The assigned caretaker can be asked to use the money for the care of the pet, but he or she is free to use it for a cruise, to pay for a wedding or any other purpose.

Establishing a pet trust gives the owner additional control when it comes to the care of the animal, although creating it is a more complicated process. It involves designating a willing caretaker and a trustee who will manage the funds left in the trust for the care of the pet. The testator can control the care by specifying things like the type of food, accommodation, veterinary care and other aspects that should be followed.

Pet owners in New York who have questions about pet trusts or how to use wills to provide pet care can arrange a consultation with an experienced estate planning attorney. A lawyer can provide answers and explain how the laws of the state deal with such matters. Legal counsel can then draft the necessary documents, and assist with keeping it current along with other estate planning documents by adding additional pets or removing pets who have died.

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