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Considering pets in the estate planning process

For many people in California, their pets are a loved and valued part of their family. In makes sense that, as such, pet owners would consider them in the estate planning process. When it comes to ensuring that a pet is cared for after the owner passes away, there are a couple of options.

Some people will opt to make provisions for their pets in a will. In a will, the owner can bequeath the pet to a trusted caretaker; in this sense, the pet is treated as property that's being transferred. Money can also be left to provide for the care of the animal. However, designations regarding money left for a pet in a will cannot be enforced. That is, a caretaker could use the money for things other than the care of the pet.

Another option is to create a pet trust. Though a more expensive option, creating a trust gives the pet owner more control over the care the pet will receive. During the process, the pet owner must designate both a caretaker and a trustee, a person different from the caretaker who can ensure that funds are being appropriately used. Ensuring that the caretaker is in agreement with the plans is especially important and special consideration is often given in the choosing of this person, including whether the person is able to provide appropriate care.

Pets are important part of many people's lives. As such, owners in California and across the country are interested in ensuring their pets receive the care they need even when they are no longer able to provide the care themselves. Because different states treat such matters differently, it is often beneficial to have an estate planning professional with experience with state law helping create the necessary documents.

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