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Did you include your pet in your estate plan?

Most of us love our pets as much as we do our human children, and for this reason, it makes sense to include a plan for our pets in our estate documents. This plan doesn't have to be overly complicated and it doesn't have to be expensive to implement.

Although many estate planners set up informal arrangements with a family member or friend who agrees to care for a pet, a pet trust is a great way to legally formalize this arrangement. A pet trust is a legally enforceable document that ensures your pet is well taken care of and that money you designate for the care of your pet is spent as you intended.

Pet trusts bring peace of mind to pet owners

Pet trusts bring peace of mind because they offer legal assurance that the pet owner's directions regarding pet care will be followed. A pet trust can also be written with specific directions that indicate the brand of food and treats to give a dog or cat. They can also include directions to take a dog on a daily walk in a specific place.

Pet owners may also want to indicate that their dogs or cats will go for veterinary checkups three times a year to a specific vet. Finally, the trust can indicate how the animal should be cared for as he or she grows older, or if various types of medical conditions develop.

What to specify in your pet trust

When drafting a pet trust, here are a few things that pet owners will want to specify in the document:

  • Clear identification of the pets included in the pet trust via photographs, clear descriptions of the pet, DNA samples and/or microchips.
  • A description of the pet's standard of care and living.
  • A requirement that the trustee regularly inspects the pet.
  • An estimate of how much money the pet requires for his or her care and how the trust will distribute the funds to the caretaker.
  • How much money will be required to pay for the administration of the pet trust.
  • A designated remainder beneficiary who will receive the pet trust funds after the pet dies or when the trust terminates.
  • Instructions for the end of life disposition of your pet, via cremation or burial, for example.

Learn more about pet trust planning in Florida

Specific laws apply to pet trusts in the state of Florida. Make sure you fully understand how these laws apply to you and your pet before you begin to draft your pet trust plan.

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