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Think about what your pets really need for continued care.

If your pets are very important to you and your family, you can include and protect them in your estate plan, according to’s Unleashed in “Don’t Leave Pets Out of Estate Planning“.

If you are considering including your pets in your estate plan, here are some considerations:

Think about what you have and what your pet needs. You should only include items of true value within your estate plan. You don’t need to include your pet’s favorite toy or walking leash.

It is important to choose a beneficiary. This involves listing a beneficiary or caretaker, who will inherit your pet when you pass away. If you make sure that person will bring your pet into their home, it will give you peace of mind. Check with your estate planning attorney to be sure this is an enforceable provision in your will. It is not lawful in all states.

If you don’t have someone who will take care of your pet, find an organization with a program that cares for pets once their owners have passed. Make sure to contact the organization and follow their guidelines in your estate plan. There may be a donation or fees involved. Don’t leave any details out.

Create a pet trust, preferably as part of a revocable living trust. It will make it more certain that your pet will receive proper care. It is critical that you fund this trust, so the trustee will be able to carry out your wishes to care for your pet. This is especially true for animals with long life spans, such as horses or certain breeds of birds.

A trust ensures that your pet is the primary beneficiary of the entity and will receive whatever funds are placed into the trust.

Make sure to name a trusted caretaker who will give your pet the same kind of love and care that you would and make sure that they have the financial resources to do so. You don’t need to leave large sums of money, but by making sure there is enough money for food, veterinary care and other expenses, your pet will can be ensured of a loving and happy life.

An estate planning attorney can advise you in creating an estate plan that fits your unique circumstances and may include your pets.

Resource: Unleashed (April 16, 2018) “Don’t Leave Pets Out of Estate Planning

For more information on asset preservation and estate planning, please visit my estate planning website.

Mr. Amoruso concentrates his practice on Elder Law, Comprehensive Estate Planning, Asset Preservation, Estate Administration and Guardianship.