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Does your estate plan include your pet?

You have likely seen the commercials that feature abandoned and abused dogs and cats left to survive and struggle on their own. These commercials often make pet owners pull their animals close and assure them such a thing will never happen to them because you love and care for them as members of the family.

However, if you have a special companion who trusts you to fill its basic needs, what will happen to that animal when you are no longer able to provide that care?

What are the basics of a pet trust?

You may have had a conversation with a friend or family member who agreed to take care of your dog, cat or other animal if you should die or become incapacitated and unable to provide for your pet. You may even have written this into your will. However, it is a fact that many animals whose owners make these arrangements end up in shelters or worse. A will or verbal agreement does not legally bind anyone to the promise to care for your beloved animals, but a pet trust can.

With a pet trust, you can designate someone to care for your animal and leave specific instruction as well as funds to ensure the caretaker complies with your wishes. Additionally, your trust will have a trustee who maintains the funds you place in the trust and oversees the care your chosen caretaker gives to your furry or feathered companion. Some important benefits of a pet trust include these:

  • Unlike a will, a trust does not have to wait for probate to become active.
  • Your pet trust can go into effect if you become ill, not only after you pass away.
  • You can include the names of backup caregivers in your trust, including Nevada sanctuaries or other organizations.
  • Your instructions can be as specific as you want, including where to walk your dog, what kinds of food your pet eats, when and where to get medical attention, and the daily routine of your pet.
  • You can also include instructions for how you would like your caretaker to handle matters at the end of your pet's life.

It is important to fund your pet trust well enough to meet your goals for your animal, including emergencies and end-of-life expenses. You will want to compensate your pet's caregiver and leave instructions for what to do with any leftover funds when your pet's life is over. With the guidance of a skilled attorney, you can create a trust that will provide a safe and comfortable life for your beloved companion.

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