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The Plain English Attorney

By Monika Saldivar

If you are a pet lover as I am, you probably cannot image spending a day without your pooch. In fact, you are the only one who knows very well his personality, habits, and health history. You can tell when there is something wrong with him or when it is time to visit a vet. In other words, nobody will do a better job in caring for your pet than you.

When we plan for the unexpected with a will or a trust, our pets are sometimes left out since some attorneys do not mention pets during the process of creating a will. However, as a responsible caregiver, you should plan for the future of your loving pets in case you are not there tomorrow. As you may be aware, pets in a legal system are portrayed as a property thus they must “be owned” by someone.

The very first step to take is writing a detailed list related to your pet, including health issues, dietary restrictions, and do not forget about favorite treats and toys. Next, you should give thought to potential candidates who would be a great substitution for you. You want to choose someone who you trust because they will end up making medical decisions for your pet as well. We all know that animals get sick, just like humans do, so this could come up eventually. So, contact the people on your list and ask if they feel comfortable taking such a responsibility on their shoulders. You can definitely think about the financial aspects as well. That is why you should consider putting aside a certain amount of money. Including your pet in a trust is not strange, and many clients choose to include specific pet trust provisions.

Next, focus on making changes to your legal documents. By doing so, you are giving your pet into good hands in case something unexpected happens. Most people do not want to risk their pet ending up in the animal shelter or with the wrong person. Having the right provisions in a trust can also include monitoring your pet’s condition to make sure they are cared for.

Since the laws regarding pet estate planning vary from state to state, it is recommended to contact your attorney to discuss taking proper action. Pets are often considered family members, and we need to think about the unexpected events and possibilities of not being there for them. Pets love us unconditionally and are always there when we need them, so we should make sure that someone will always be there if we cannot.

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