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Can I Put My Pet In My Will?

Have you ever wondered what to do with your pet if you suddenly passed away? Who is going to take care of it? What if it gets sick and needs medical attention? Who is going to pay the medical bills? Who is going to pay for routine shots? These are many questions you may ask yourself in thinking about this confusing topic.
The Uniform Trust Act of 2000 does not allow you to will property to an animal per se, but it allows you to set up a trust for the continuing care of your pet. The Act itself is an example of the increased recognition of animal interests.
As of right now, there are roughly thirty-one states that now recognize pet trusts. These trusts allow for the owner to name a pet as a beneficiary and to name a trustee to take care of the pet.
Make plans for your pet.
According to an article written by Eileen Ambrose of The Baltimore Sun, it is important that people make plans for what will happen to their pet. And whether they end up creating a pet trust, setting money aside in a will for care or use some other means, the issues owners face will be similar. For instance, pet owners need to find a caretaker and someone to manage the money left behind for the pet's benefit. Usually the same person handles both roles. Look for someone who is responsible, capable of handling money and likes animals.
Other suggestions in the article encourage you to:
- Name one or two backups in case the trustee cannot fulfill the job.
-Make sure there is enough money to cover pet expenses.
- Write a care plan, basically a memo detailing the veterinarian's name.
- Include in the care plan the pet's routine, medications, likes and dislikes.
Drafting a Trust
You will want to include specific information in the trust.
- The name and address of a trustee and an alternate trustee.
- The name and address of the caregiver and an alternate caregiver. (It may be beneficial to name the same person as the trustee and the caregiver)
- Detailed information on the identity of your pet. (microchip or papers)
- The standard living and care you wish for your pet.
- A detailed description of the property that will fund the trust.
- Information on how the remainder of the trust should be distributed once your pet dies.
- Instructions on the final disposition of your pet's body.
According to an article by Richard Willing of USA Today, the average amount left to pets is about $25,000. It was also stated in the article that according to a 2000 survey by the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association that Americans own roughly 68 million dogs and 73 million cats. The impulse to protect them after one's demise has always been strong and, for some, overwhelming.
Copyright 2006 Debt Management Credit Counseling Corp.
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