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How estate planning matters for pets as well

Many people in Florida have pets that are treated like members of the family. Some of these residents love their furry friends so much that they may want to account for them in an estate plan. This can prevent a pet from being sent to a shelter or left alone at home without food or water. Ideally, money and other resources will be allocated to a pet through a trust.

Provisions to care for a pet could be included in a standard living trust or a separate trust created for the animal. With a pet trust, the person assigned to be the caregiver has a fiduciary responsibility to abide by the language in the document. As with any other type of trust, it will be overseen by a trustee who distributes money provided by the pet's owner.

Alternate caregivers can be named as part of a trust if the primary caregiver is unable to fulfill the role. If the pet will need to be adopted by a new family, the owner can dictate what type of environment the animal should be placed into. For instance, it's possible to prohibit a cat from being adopted by a family that has children or other animals in the home.

An attorney could further explain the benefits of trusts and what they can do for both people and their animal companions. In addition to providing support for a pet, trusts can make it easier to transfer assets to children or other beneficiaries in a timely manner. Leaving assets to a trust may be ideal if the estate owner has minor children who can't legally manage assets on their own until they turn 18.

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