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Save some space in your will for Mittens or Fido

Pet owners in Las Vegas will have a little dust in their eye after the following story. A woman in Texas was going about her day recently, and all seemed well. However, at some point after she arrived at work, the woman suffered a fatal heart attack. She died later that day.

The woman owned two dogs, which waited at home for their owner to come back. But the door never opened; and she never came home. The dogs were left to fend for themselves. The dogs eventually freed themselves and wandered the streets for "months," according to the source article. Thankfully, another woman found the dogs and gave them a temporary home. She discovered they had microchips, so she found out about their owner's death. The dogs will now go into training to be prepped for adoption.

While this is an unfortunate story, it highlights an area of estate planning that many people either unwittingly neglect or simply don't address for reasons unknown: the handling of your pet.

Pet estate planning is not a joke -- it is a real issue that can be explicitly organized and outlined in your will. It could be something simple, such as a few sentences that outline who gets your pet after you die; or it could be something complex and nuanced, such as a plan that has a trust with funds for the pet's care and rearing.

Ultimately, this is something that all pet owners will want to address. The last thing you want is for your family members going through an unnecessary legal battle over the handling of your pet.

Source:, "Remember Pets When Estate Planning," Ben Russell, Sept. 30, 2013

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