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How pets fit into estate planning

Many people realize how important it is to ensure that they have a plan in place for the end of their lives. They know to designate who will own their house, inherit their finances or other property. One thing many Florida families neglect to consider is what will happen to their pets when they pass away. Experts say there are several ways for people to ensure that their furry loved ones will receive proper care if they should unexpectedly pass away and include them as part of estate planning.

The first thing to understand is that pets are legally considered property, even if their owners consider them family members. Owners should consider how long the pet might live and the expenses that may be needed to care for it. The owner may want to designate a specific caregiver in his or her will, but also have a verbal agreement with the person, since wills can take time to go through probate, and the pet will certainly need care and attention before that process is completed.

Many people want to leave money to their pets, and experts say that one way to do that is by leaving money to the designated caregiver. However, this doesn't guarantee that the caregiver will use the money for the pet's care. Creating a trust for the pet's care may be the best choice, since specific details for the pet's care can be part of the conditions. The owner can also decide where the remainder of the trust should go once the pet passes away.

Though it is often unpleasant to think about the end of one's life, it is a necessary task, especially if pets, or children, are part of the family. Working with an attorney here in Florida who specializes in estate planning is an excellent way to give a person peace of mind. It is important to make sure that the wishes of pet owners are followed.

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