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Taking care of your furry loved ones in your estate plan

Pets are much more furry companions. They are our loyal friends, sometimes our guides and sometimes our protectors, but always true and always there to cheer us. So it is no wonder that many Brevard County residents want to take care of their pets in their estate planning documents.

A recent column by an attorney in a Florida newspaper described some of the ways we can protect our pets, even after we have passed.

A question posed by a reader to the columnist asked if provisions should be made for pet care even after a friend has assured the reader that she will care for the pets. The Lakeland estate planning lawyer wrote that yes, even with the friend's promise, make sure to give the pets to your friend in your Last Will and Testament.

It might be a good idea to include alternative plans in the document, however. It is possible that the friend will one day change her mind, or the friend might pass away before you. These are all things you can discuss when you sit down with your attorney, of course.

The attorney also reminds people that though pets are often considered members of the family, they are property under Florida law. So they can be conveyed in a will like a car or house or other piece of property.

That means the person who is to receive the pet (the beneficiary) can also refuse to accept ownership. Again, this can make a Plan B a worthwhile thing to have in a will.

The attorney states that for many people, a will is simply not sufficient for ensuring the care of their pets. So they create with their attorney a pet trust with funds to be disbursed to a designated caregiver.

In Florida, a pet trust is in effect until the pet dies, unless you direct otherwise.

There are many details that can't be fully described here, but you can contact an experienced Brevard County estate planning attorney to discuss your needs.

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