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The family pet needs to be part of estate planning too

Several Delaware families have pets that they consider part of the family. However, when they create an estate plan, they fail to provide for the four-legged members of their families. Pets need to be part of estate planning, too, since they could outlive their owners. 

Under the law, pets are considered to be property. If Delaware residents fail to make provisions in their estate plan for the housing and care of their pets, they could end up in a shelter or worse. Does that mean that individuals should leave their retirement accounts to their pets and assume that a family member will agree to take them in after death? Of course, the answer is no.

However, an individual could calculate an approximate cost of caring for the family pet and put it into trust. The trustee might be the same person chosen to take physical possession of the pet, but it is not required. Before choosing someone for either of these positions, it would be a good idea to discuss the matter with that person or persons. Taking care of a pet is a significant undertaking that could last for years depending on the pet. The individual will want to make sure that the caretaker and/or trustee of the trust are willing to do as he or she asks.

Most Delaware residents engage in estate planning in order to provide for their families after death. Since pets are a part of those families, they need to be taken care of as well. As is the case with any other estate planning issue, numerous options should be explored before settling on a solution that works best for the individual, the other humans involved and the pet.

Source: businessinsider.com, "There's an aspect of estate planning too many people overlook", Libby Kane, Nov. 7, 2016

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