Mullen and Iannarone, P.C.
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Estate planning and pet trusts

For many New York residents, pets are an important part of their lives. Nevertheless, in many cases pets are abandoned or brought to an animal shelter when their owner dies or becomes unable to care for them. To avoid this from happening, however, pet owners can set up a pet trust as part of their estate plan.

Pet owners who want to set up a pet trust will have to designate someone who will be willing to care for the pet in the way the owner did. The designated pet's caregiver could be a relative, friend or neighbor. This person should be willing to temporarily take care of the pet if the owner is suddenly hospitalized or suffers an accident, for example. This means that the caregiver should have keys to the pet owner's residence and should be aware of important information, such as the name and number of the pet's veterinarian, if the pet needs medication and feeding instructions.

The person designated to be the pet's caregiver must also be able to take care of the animal if its owner dies or becomes permanently incapacitated. With a pet trust, the owner will be able to dictate how he or she wants the pet to be cared for, who will own the pet and how much money will be allotted for its care. It is also a good idea for pet owners to name a second caregiver in the pet trust or document in case the initial caregiver named is unable to do the job.

While a pet trust can work for some people, it may not be the right option for others due to their particular circumstances. Therefore, pet owners who wish to plan ahead of time for their pet's care might seek the advice of an attorney who could discuss the alternatives that are available.

Source: The New Orleans Advocate, "Animal rescue: Plan who will care for your pets if you can't", Traci Howerton, June 21, 2016

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