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Don't bark up the wrong tree with pets and estate planning

What happens to a pet when its owner dies? Many Delaware residents engage in estate planning to take care of their loved ones after their deaths, but they may also need to take some time to figure out what will happen to their pets as well. No one can assume that another family member or friend will automatically take on this responsibility.

Caring for an animal is often a commitment that requires many years and many dollars. Choosing the right person to take on these tasks may not be as easy as a Delaware resident believes. It would make sense then to make sure that person would actually want the job. Then there is the matter of paying for food, veterinary bills and other costs.

Many people who provide for their pets in their estate planning do so through a trust. A beneficiary of the animal can be named, money can be put into the trust for its care and instructions can be left as well. Some animals have particular requirements due to health issues, or they may have just become used to a certain level of care. These issues can be addressed in the trust, but it would also help if they remained realistic.

The person appointed to care for the pet will more than likely want to do the best job possible, but if the person engaging in the estate planning makes unreasonable demands, it may be difficult for the caregiver to meet them. Instead, the animal's current preferences can be outlined and money can be provided to fulfill those needs. In addition, it may be a good idea to include some idea of where any leftover money should go after the animal dies.

Source: Fox News, "How to care for your pets after you die -- and what you should never do", Sept. 1, 2017

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