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Pet owners may want to include pets in estate plans

Many people in New Jersey are diligent about drafting their estate-planning documents and keep them up-to-date. They make sure that their loved ones are cared for, and they’ve decided who will take care of their home in the event of their death, among other things. Unfortunately, some people fail to include their pets in their estate plans, leaving some beloved animals without a caregiver.

Pets are largely dependent on their human owners for food, water, and shelter. For this reason, it’s important for pet owners to keep their pets safe in the event of their unexpected death. Some pet owners choose to carry a card with them that lists who will care for their pets in an emergency and how that person can be reached. In other cases, people have even set up trusts for their pets, which provides the pet’s next owner with financial resources to cover the costs of the pet’s food, shelter, grooming, and other necessities.

A woman in Texas put her two dogs in the backyard before she went to work for the day. After she died unexpectedly, the two dogs were left with no owner, and no one knew they were there. The dogs eventually escaped and roamed the streets for months to find food before a woman took them in. Fortunately, the woman is working to find permanent homes for the dogs.

This story may serve as a reminder to some people to make sure that they have decided who will care for their pets after their death. Pets often become irreplaceable members of the family. Anyone who needs help with trust administration or estate planning may want to work with an attorney.

Source: NBC DFW, “Remember Pets When Estate Planning,” Ben Russell, Sep. 30, 2013

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