VanNess & VanNess, P.A.

Adding pets to a Florida estate plan

As part of an estate plan, it may be a good idea to name a guardian to any pets an individual may have. Failing to do so could result in an animal being sent to a shelter where it may be scared and grieving at the same time. Depending on the situation, it may be a good idea to appoint someone to watch the animal in the event a pet owner becomes temporarily unable to care for the pet.

Then, another person may be appointed to take care of the animal if the owner becomes incapacitated or passes away. Just like with a person, it may be a good idea to create a trust to provide for the animal's needs after its original caregiver is unable to be there for the pet. Agreements should be put into writing to ensure that whoever agrees to care for the animal will follow through.

It is recommended that pet owners talk to whomever they appoint to ensure that they understand what they are getting into. Whoever takes responsibility for the animal will have to care for it and make decisions for it as if it were their own. Those who agree to take on a pet for any reason can get information about responsible pet ownership from their local shelter.

Accounting for pets in an estate plan reduces the chances that they are left behind when their owner dies. It may provide peace of mind for both the owner and anyone else who may be concerned for the animal's well being. An attorney may be able to help create special trust documents that enable the owner to provide financial assistance to anyone who does care for the pet.

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